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Long Legislative Service Not a Prescription for Gubernatorial Electoral Success in Minnesota

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Only one Minnesota Governor since statehood has spent as much time in the legislature as 2010 DFL candidates Margaret Anderson Kelliher and Matt Entenza

This report is the 11th 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, legal education, and religious beliefs of successful gubernatorial candidates in Minnesota history.

After Tim Pawlenty announced in June 2009 that he would not be seeking a third term, a barrage of current and former state legislators threw their hats into the 2010 gubernatorial ring.

As of early May, however, just three such legislators are still standing.

Three-term Republican Representative Tom Emmer and 6-term DFLer (and Speaker of the House) Margaret Anderson Kelliher each received their party's endorsement, while former 6-term Representative Matt Entenza plans to join Mark Dayton in the DFL primary with Anderson Kelliher in August.

Not only would the election of Anderson Kelliher break the Minnesota and Upper Midwestern glass ceiling, but her election, or that of Entenza, would also set another record in the Gopher State.

A Smart Politics analysis of Minnesota Legislative Reference Library data finds that only one of Minnesota's 38 governors has been elected with as much legislative experience as Anderson Kelliher and Entenza, and no governor has served as many years as they have in the Minnesota House (12).

In total, 18 Minnesotans served in the State House or Senate prior to serving as Governor of the Gopher State.

· Nine governors previously served in the State Senate: John Pillsbury, Lucius Hubbard, Knute Nelson, David Clough, John Johnson, Adolph Eberhart, Elmer Andersen, Rudy Perpich, and Al Quie.
· Eight governors previously served in the State House: Cushman Davis, William Merriam, Samuel Van Sant, J.A.A. Burnquist, Theodore Christianson, Hjalmar Petersen, Arne Carlson, and Tim Pawlenty.
· One governor served both in the State Senate and the House prior to being elected governor: Wendell Anderson.
· Two other governors were Minnesota Territorial House Representatives: the state's 1st Governor Henry Sibley (1855) and 5th Governor William Marshall (1849).
· Three governors were elected to the state legislature after serving as governor: Governor Sibley served one year in the House (1871), the state's 3rd Governor Henry Swift served in the Senate (from 1864-1865), and the state's 10th Governor Andrew McGill served in the Senate (from 1899 until his death in 1905).

To date, no Minnesota Governor has logged in as many years in the Minnesota House as Entenza (12 years) or Anderson Kelliher (finishing her 12th year).

The longest amount of time a victorious gubernatorial candidate has ever served in the House is 10 years: a record co-held by Republicans Tim Pawlenty (1993-2002) and the state's 21st Governor, Theodore Christianson (1915-1924).

In fact, only one other Minnesota governor has served more than four years in the House - Arne Carlson (eight years, from 1971 to 1978).

Additionally, just one governor from the Gopher State has served as long as Entenza and Anderson Kelliher in either legislative chamber - DFLer Wendell Anderson. Anderson served four years in the House and eight years in the Senate from 1959-1970, for 12 years in total.

Two other State Senators logged in double-digit years of service prior to being elected Governor of Minnesota: John Pillsbury (10 years, 1863-1868, 1871, 1873-1875) and Elmer Andersen (10 years, 1949-1958).

If elected, Anderson Kelliher would not be the first House Speaker to later serve in the Governor's mansion. Minnesota's 11th Governor William Merriam and 15th Governor Samuel Van Sant also served as Speaker prior to being elected Governor of Minnesota.

The longest stretch in Minnesota political history without a former legislator in the governor's mansion is 24 years, from 1937-1961, during the tenures of Elmer Benson, Harold Stassen, Edward Thye, Luther Youngdahl, C. Elmer Anderson, and Orville Freeman.

Years of Legislative Service Among Minnesota's Governors prior to Serving as Governor

#
Governor
Chamber
Years
Total
33
Wendell Anderson
House, Senate
1959-1970
12
39
Tim Pawlenty
House
1993-2002
10
30
Elmer Andersen
Senate
1949-1958
10
21
Theodore Christianson
House
1915-1924
10
8
John Pillsbury
Senate
1863-1868, 1871, 1873-1875
10
37
Arne Carlson
House
1971-1978
8
34, 36
Rudy Perpich
Senate
1963-1970
8
23
Hjalmar Petersen
House
1931-1934
4
19
J.A.A. Burnquist
House
1909-1912
4
17
Adolph Eberhart
Senate
1903-1906
4
16
John Johnson
Senate
1899-1902
4
15
Samuel Van Sant
House
1893-1896
4
13
David Clough
Senate
1887-1890
4
12
Knute Nelson
Senate
1875-1878
4
11
William Merriam
House
1883-1884, 1887-1888
4
9
Lucius Hubbard
Senate
1872-1875
4
35
Al Quie
Senate
1955-1958
3.1
7
Cushman Davis
House
1867
1
5
William Marshall
Territorial House
1849
1
1
Henry Sibley
Territorial House
1855
1
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library data compiled by Smart Politics.

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Remains of the Data

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The rate of gubernatorial candidates elected without the support of a majority of voters is at its highest level since the 1910s.

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Home Field Advantage?

When the 114th Congress convenes in a few days, Maine will be represented by one home-grown U.S. Representative: Waterville-born Republican Bruce Poliquin. With the departure of Millinocket-born Mike Michaud, who launched a failed gubernatorial bid, the Pine Tree State was poised to send a House delegation to D.C. without any Maine-born members for the first time since 1821. Three-term U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree (born in Minnesota) coasted to reelection as expected, however Poliquin edged Kentucky-born Emily Cain by 5.3 points to keep the streak alive. Since 1876, a total of 208 of the 222 candidates elected to the nation's lower legislative chamber from the state have been born in Maine, or 94 percent.


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