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Gov. Brendan Byrne on election night, 1977. (Photo: Center for the American Governor, Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers University.)

Some Democratic Governor’s Association trivia

By David Wildstein, December 02 2018 9:42 pm

The last New Jerseyan to head the Democratic Governor’s Association was Brendan Byrne in 1980.

Democrats won six and lost seven.

Incumbents Bill Clinton (Arkansas), Joseph Teasdale (Missouri) and Arthur Link (North Dakota) lost re-election bids.  Two other Democratic governors lost their primaries: Thomas Judge (Montana) and Dixy Lee Ray (Washington).  Democrats held Montana and lost Washington in the general.

Byrne was also the last Democratic governor of New Jersey to win re-election.

Gov. Phil Murphy is set to assume the DGA chairmanship in 2020.

The DGA chair is not exactly a launching spot for a presidential campaign; Clinton is the only past DGA char to win.

Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis was the only other DGA chairman to win the Democratic presidential nomination.  He ran the DGA in 1987 and won the nomination in 1988.

The first DGA chairman was John Connolly (Texas) in 1965.  Connolly eventually ran for president, but as a Republican.

Reubin Askew (Florida), Jerry Brown (California), Bruce Babbitt (Arizona), Howard Dean (Vermont), Tom Vilsack (Iowa), Bill Richardson (New Mexico) and Martin O’Malley were the other DGA chairs to seek the presidency.

Democrats have never nominated an ex-DGA chair for vice president.  Patrick Lucey (Wisconsin), who chaired the DGA in 1977, ran as an independent candidate for VP in 1980 on a ticket with John Anderson.

Five former DGA chairs have made their way to the cabinet, and four to the United States Senate.

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