Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Will Minnesotans Elect a Catholic Governor in 2010?

Bookmark and Share

Only one Catholic has ever been elected Governor in Minnesota history; Seifert, Emmer, Kelliher, Rukavina, Thissen among 2010 Catholic gubernatorial candidates

This report is the 10th installment in Smart Politics' 'Pathway to the Governor's Mansion' Series. Past reports analyzed the political experience, geographic background, ethnic background, age (part 1), astrological signs, age (part 2), U.S. Senatorial experience, names, and legal education of successful gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota history).

While the particular religious denomination of political figures may not be as important a consideration for Minnesota voters as it was in years past, there is nonetheless a curious statistical oddity that pervades Minnesota electoral politics.

Even though 28 percent of Minnesota residents are affiliated with the Catholic tradition, just one Catholic has ever been elected governor of the Gopher State.

According to a 2008 Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life survey, Minnesotans are more Catholic than the nation as a whole (24 percent), but Rudy Perpich (pictured above) remains the only Catholic to be elected Governor (in 1982 and 1986) across the 64 gubernatorial contests held since statehood in 1857.

That statistic might very well change in 2010, however, with Catholicism being the faith held by several prominent gubernatorial candidates, including Republican frontrunners Marty Seifert and Tom Emmer and DFLers Margaret Anderson Kelliher, Tom Rukavina, and Paul Thissen.

And what denomination has had the most members serve as Governor of Minnesota?

A Smart Politics analysis of the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library and National Governors Association databases finds that 15 Lutherans have served as governor of Minnesota - more than any other denomination.

Given the Scandinavian tilt of the state's historical immigrant tradition and the fact that half of the state's 38 governors came from Swedish or Norwegian heritage, the historical prominence of Lutherans ascending to the Governor's mansion should not come as a big surprise.

In fact, over a 46-year stretch, from 1920 through 1966, 10 of the 12 men elected Governor of Minnesota were Lutherans. (An 11th Lutheran Governor, Hjalmar Petersen, was not elected to the office).

Lutheran governors include Knute Nelson, Adolph Eberhart, J.A.O. Preus, Floyd Olson, Hjalmar Petersen, Elmer Bensen, Edward Thye, Luther Youngdahl, C. Elmer Anderson, Orville Freeman, Elmer Andersen, Karl Rolvaag, Harold LeVander, and Al Quie. Jesse Ventura, who has stated he believes in God (but has a complicated relationship with organized religion), was also raised Lutheran.

Aside from Lutheranism, there has been no other prevalent religious denomination among those remaining 23 individuals who have held the office of Governor of the Gopher State.

Minnesota has also been governed by:

· Three Methodists (Alexander Ramsey, Andrew McGill, Samuel Van Sant)
· Three Congregationalists (John Pillsbury, J.A.A. Burnquist, Arne Carlson)
· Three Episcopalians (Henry Sibley, Cushman Davis, William Merriam)
· Two Baptists (Harold Stassen, Tim Pawlenty)
· Two Presbyterians (John Johnson, Theodore Christianson)
· One Unitarian (John Lind)
· One Swedenborgian (William Marshall)
· One Roman Catholic (Rudy Perpich)

The National Governor's Association describes the religious views of the state's 33rd Governor, Wendell Anderson, as 'Protestant' generally. The state's 4th Governor, Stephen Miller, was a religious man but not a member of any church. The religious beliefs of an additional five governors were not listed, though they were not Catholics (Henry Swift, Horace Austin, Lucius Hubbard, David Clough, Winfield Hammond)

Lutherans, the religious faith of between one-quarter and one-third of all Minnesotans, are represented in the 2010 gubernatorial race by DFLers Matt Entenza and John Marty, according to the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library database.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Hard at Work? Minnesota Legislature Sets Record for Decade-Long Days in Session
Next post: Tarryl Clark Shatters Minnesota U.S. House Fundraising Record for Q1 of Election Year

5 Comments



  • If the article assigns Ventura to the Lutherans
    (“Jesse Ventura, who has stated he believes in God (but has a complicated relationship with organized religion), was also raised Lutheran.”)
    then why not assign Pawlenty to the Roman Catholics (or Evangelical) ?

    Pawlenty was born, baptized and raised a Roman Catholic, he moved over to the then Baptist church which his wife attended. Currently, the Wooddale Church is an evangelical interdenominational church with a constituency from a broad range of denominational and local church backgrounds. The Wooddale Church is associated with several ministry organizations, including the Baptist General Conference (BGC), Bethel University, the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference (CCCC), the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and the Greater Minnesota Association of Evangelicals (GMAE).

    Shouldn’t the Catholics at least get an asterisk for Pawlenty ?

    For me, any religion that teaches to help others is the only requirement … as voters we can judge how the candidates as well as our current Governor are “helping others”.

    So when considering religion, the words of Grant Stevensen, a Pastor at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in St. Paul seem very appropriate. Pastor Stevenson criticized Gov. Pawlenty for cutting funding for health insurance for the poor while campaiging across the country saying "God is in Charge" :
    "I'm concerned that because they are feeling pressure from a governor who has a speech to write that he wants to run around the country and give as he's elected president. I'm not so sure he cares so much anymore about Minnesota and the people that are here.
    I have a personal request of the governor. Governor please, stop talking to us about God. the governor is going around saying 'God is in control.' We elected you. We elected you to be making decisions for this state that will help everyone in this state. Things that will lift up the poorest in this state. Don't pass this on to God. That's no God we've ever heard of.
    And please stop lecturing us about god. It's offensive. The only God we're aware of is the one who says 'If you want to follow me, you'll look our for the widows, and the orphans, for the fatherless, for the poorest in the land.' Please stop talking to us about God. It's offensive. We can't take it."

  • Tom Horner would be a Catholic Governor, too.

  • > Tom Horner would be a Catholic Governor, too.

    And he sits on the board of Catholic Charities of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

  • > If the article assigns Ventura to the Lutherans (“Jesse Ventura,
    > who has stated he believes in God (but has a complicated
    > relationship with organized religion), was also raised
    > Lutheran.”) then why not assign Pawlenty to the Roman
    > Catholics (or Evangelical) ?

    The difference is that Ventura never changed denominations (and he still professes to be a believer; if he became an atheist or an agnostic as Governor then that would be a different story). Pawlenty, however, did change.

  • All the talk about the Catholic religion as a denomination of political figures may not be as important a consideration for Minnesotain 2010 and beyond. A recent issue of The Atlantic magazine presents 14 of “the most powerful ideas of the year”, and one of them is, " The Catholic Church is Finished"?. I recommend you read the most recent posting of the The Joyful Catholic blog to see their interpretation

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Gender Equality in the US House: A State-by State Quarter-Century Report Card (1989-2014)

    A study of 5,325 congressional elections finds the number of female U.S. Representatives has more than tripled over the last 25 years, but the rate at which women are elected to the chamber still varies greatly between the states.

    Political Crumbs

    Final Four Has Presidential Approval

    By edging Michigan in the final seconds Sunday, the University of Kentucky guaranteed that one school in the Final Four this year would be located in a state that was not carried by President Barack Obama in 2012. (Connecticut, Florida, and Wisconsin had previously earned Final Four slots over the weekend). Across the 76 Final Fours since 1939, an average of 3.1 schools have been located in states won by the president's ticket during the previous election cycle. All four schools have come from states won by the president 29 times, with the most recent being the 2009 Final Four featuring Connecticut, Michigan State, North Carolina, and Villanova. On 30 occasions three Final Four schools have been located in states won by the president, with two schools 11 times and only one school six times (the most recent being 2012 with Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, and Ohio State). There has never been a Men's NCAA Division I Final Four in which no schools were located in states carried by the president's ticket.


    Three for the Road

    A new Rasmussen Poll shows Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in a dead heat with likely 2014 Democratic nominee Mary Burke. Walker is seeking to win his third consecutive election after prevailing in 2012's recall contest. Eight of his predecessors accomplished this feat: Republicans Lucius Fairchild (in 1869), Jeremiah Rusk (1886), Robert La Follette (1904), Emanuel Philipp (1918), John Blaine (1924), Walter Kohler (1954), Warren Knowles (1968), and Tommy Thompson (1994). Three others Badger State governors lost on their third campaign: Democrat George Peck (1894), Progressive Philip La Follette (1938), and Republican Julius Heil (1942). One died in office before having the opportunity to win a third contest (GOPer Walter Goodland in 1947) while another resigned beforehand (Democrat Patrick Lucey in 1977 to become Ambassador to Mexico). Overall Wisconsin gubernatorial incumbents have won 35 of 47 general election contests, or 74.5 percent of the time.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting