Perry Has Most Gubernatorial Experience of Any Presidential Candidate in History

No other presidential candidate can match Perry’s 14 years and one month in office as governor; Pataki and Huckabee also make the Top 10 for White House hopefuls

rickperry10.jpgHoping to turn the page from his less than stellar 2012 campaign, on Thursday Rick Perry became the 10th major Republican to announce his candidacy for the presidency in 2016.

Despite raising a large amount of money after entering the race in August 2011, Perry’s poor debate performances saw his campaign flame out by mid-January 2012.

When not being a self-effacing good sport about his 2012 campaign, Perry has attributed those underwhelming months in the national spotlight to (at least in part) health issues he had following back surgery.

Now seemingly healthy, Perry launches another campaign in which he will face even more GOP contenders, although he now has one notable feather in his cap.

A Smart Politics review of presidential election data finds that Rick Perry enters the 2016 race with the most gubernatorial experience of any presidential candidate in history.

Perry left office in January 2016 as the nation’s 10th longest serving statehood governor.

Perry served 14 years and one month (5,144 days) as Texas’ top official and takes with him a gubernatorial tenure that is unmatched among White House hopefuls over the decades.

Of the nine governors who served longer than Perry, five never ran for president: Iowa Republican Terry Branstad, South Dakota Republican Bill Janklow, North Carolina Democrat Jim Hunt, Louisiana Democrat Edwin Edwards, and Rhode Island Anti-Federalist Arthur Fenner.

The remaining four governors did step into the arena of presidential politics, but none had served longer than Perry’s 14+ years at the time:

● Alabama Democrat George Wallace (1963-1967, 1971-1979, 1983-1987) had logged slightly more than nine years in office by the time of the 1976 primaries for his final White House bid.

● Ohio Republican Jim Rhodes (1963-1971, 1975-1983) was in his sixth year as governor when he won his home state’s 1968 primary as a favorite-son candidate.

● Maryland Democrat Albert Ritchie (1920-1935) had served nearly 12.5 years as governor when he peaked at 23.5 votes on the second and third ballots at the 1932 DNC. (Ritchie had also won 42 votes at the 1924 DNC when he had only four-plus years under his belt as governor).

● New York Republican Nelson Rockefeller (1959-1973) was in his second (1960), sixth (1964), and 10th (1968) years as governor when he made his three White House bids.

With his 2016 candidacy Perry edges former four-term Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson for the most gubernatorial experience of any presidential candidate – by two days.

Perry passed Thompson in gubernatorial service on January 19th of this year with two days left in his term.

Thompson served 14 months and 28 days (5,142 days) as governor of the Badger State before his resignation in 2001 to become George W. Bush’s Secretary of Health and Human Services.

In 2007, Thompson made a brief run for the GOP nomination, but exited the race after the Iowa Straw Poll in August of that year.

Other presidential candidates who had particularly long records of gubernatorial service at the time of their campaign include two fellow 2016 Republican candidates:

● New York Republican George Pataki (1995-2007) in 2016 with 12 years of service
● Arkansas Democrat Bill Clinton (1979-1981, 1983-1992) in 1992 (11+ years)
● Vermont Democrat Howard Dean (1991-2003) in 2004 (11+ years)
● Arkansas Republican Mike Huckabee (1996-2007) in 2008 and 2016 (10 years, five-plus months)
● California Republican Earl Warren (1943-1953) in 1952 (nine-plus years)
● Massachusetts Democrat Michael Dukakis (1975-1979, 1983-1991) in 1988 (nine-plus years)

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