The Executive Summary: Another top Florida official resigns amid controversy

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August 8, 2013

Edited by Greg Janetka

This edition of The Executive Summary features a focus on state education leaders - Florida’s Tony Bennett (who previously led Indiana’s schools) resigned amid controversy, while Rich Crandall, a former Arizona State Senator, officially took over as head of Wyoming’s schools. Meanwhile, Illinois Democrats find themselves divided as legislative leaders sue Gov. Pat Quinn for their paychecks and governors from across the country spent the weekend in Wisconsin for the annual National Governors Association meeting. On the election front, we're just three months away from this year's general election as candidates continue to declare for 2014. And, as always, we'll test your knowledge with a trivia question.

Serial superintendent resigns over baggage from previous post

Tony Bennett

In another blow to Gov. Rick Scott's administration, Florida Commissioner of Education Tony Bennett stepped down on August 1, two days after revelations he had abused his previous office as Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction surfaced in the press.[1] Earlier this year Scott's lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll, resigned after questions arose surrounding her involvement with a non-profit organization. Bennett's predecessor, Gerard Robinson, also resigned amid controversy.[2]

Bennett's resignation, effective immediately, stemmed from an Associated Press exposé showing that while he was still superintendent in Indiana, Bennett tampered with a charter school's grading system in order to protect his relationship with a powerful Republican campaign donor.[3]

Prior to becoming Florida's nonpartisan education commissioner, Bennett served as the Republican state superintendent of Indiana from 2009-2013.[4] He ran for re-election last year but was narrowly defeated in the Nov. 6 general election by Glenda Ritz. Weeks later, he announced that he had applied for the appointed position of Florida Commissioner of Education.[5] He was unanimously approved for the appointment on December 12, 2012 and assumed office as commissioner on January 14, 2013.

In February of this year, Governing named Bennett as one of the top state Republican officials to watch in 2013.[6]

Six months later, he resigned from public office.[7]

Denying all reports of ethical or political misconduct, Bennett explained in a statement, "I don't believe it would be fair to be distracted" to continue serving as commissioner amid the controversy.[8][9]

Before entering politics, Bennett was a science teacher. He parlayed his teaching job into a career as a school administrator.[4]

The vacancy created by Bennett's abrupt departure is not the first of its kind to arise this summer nationwide. On June 30 Roger Breed resigned his post as Nebraska Commissioner of Education. Breed's seat has yet to be filled with a permanent replacement, meanwhile ex-deputy Scott Swisher is serving as acting commissioner.[10][11]

Florida state law has no specific procedure for filling vacancies in the office of education commissioner. Pam Stewart, who had served as interim Commissioner of Education prior to Bennett's hiring, was once again named as the temporary officeholder.[12]

Rich Crandall

Crandall takes over in Wyoming

Rich Crandall, a former Republican member of the Arizona State Senate, officially took over as the first permanent Director of the Wyoming Department of Education this past week. The position was created by the legislature on January 29, 2013. Previously, the elected Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction served as head of the state Department of Education, but the new law made the superintendent a largely ceremonial position.[13]

Wyoming Community College Commission Executive Jim Rose served as interim officeholder until a permanent director could be found.[14][15] Crandall had served in the Senate since 2011. He is President and CFO of Crandall Corporate Dietitians.[16]

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn

Illinois Governor sued by lawmakers

With his state facing the worst pension crisis in the nation, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) threatened consequences if lawmakers failed to find a solution. On July 10, he followed through on that threat, using his line-item veto power on a budget bill to suspend lawmakers pay, saying he would also refuse to accept a salary until a deal was made. The problem, which currently stands at nearly $100 billion in unfunded pension liability and grows by $5 million every day, has been a major issue for Quinn for the last two years.[17] It is the result of legislators routinely skipping and shorting payments to the retirement system for decades.[18]

On July 30, Speaker of the House Michael Madigan (D) and President of the Senate John Cullerton responded by filing a lawsuit against the governor, arguing the denial of pay was unconstitutional as it undermines the separation of powers. They are seeking an injunction that would force the state comptroller to issue paychecks with interest.[19] Oral arguments in the case are set to be heard on September 18.[20] Lawmakers missed their check on August 1, the next one is scheduled for September 1.[21]

National Governors Association holds annual meeting

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin named new Chair of the NGA

Over the past weekend governors from across the country made their way to Milwaukee for the group’s 105th annual summer meeting. Prior to the official start of the meetings, governors took part in a special batting clinic with member of the Milwaukee Brewers[22] and Wisconsin’s own Scott Walker (R) led a motorcycle ride.[23]

Once they got down to business, the meeting highlighted Delaware Governor Jack Markell’s year long initiative that focused on employment challenges for individuals with intellectual and other significant disabilities.[24] The group also chose new leaders for the 2013-2014 year, consisting of the following nine members:[25]

Ethics commission ruling may end campaign for Mass. governor hopeful

Current incumbent Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat first elected in 2006, is eligible to run for re-election in 2014. However, after winning re-election in 2010, Patrick stated that he would not seek a third term in the state's top executive office.[26][27]

As of Aug. 2013, the race to replace Patrick has drawn four Democratic candidates and one United Independent Party candidate. The field of Democrats competing for their party's nomination in the primary, which is scheduled for September 16, 2014, includes two individuals already serving in elected office - state treasurer Steven Grossman and state Sen. Daniel Wolf.

Wolf, who formally announced his bid for governor in July, was disqualified from the race on August 2, 2013, after the Massachusetts Ethics Commission ruled that he cannot become governor-or even hold his current state senate seat-due to a conflict of interest concerning his stake in an airline he founded 25 years ago, Cape Air. Cape Air, now an employee-owned company, has business relationships with the Massachusetts Port Authority, which is a quasi-public agency; Its board is controlled by the governor.[28][29] According to the commission, Wolf can restore his ability to hold, and run for, office in Massachusetts on the condition he sells his 23 percent holding in Cape Air. The ruling stemmed from a request by Wolf himself to have his ownership in the company reviewed in order to avoid violating the state's conflict of interest law. Additionally, he has stated that his filings with the commission while in office have detailed his holdings in Cape Air and that these were never raised as areas of concern in the past.

Aside from claiming that the opinion of the commission would, "prevent any successful businessperson who may have even tangential business interaction with the state from entering public life," following the ruling, Wolf stated that he would appeal the decision and continue to serve as state senator and campaign for governor.[30]

If Wolf fails to successfully appeal the ruling and/or comply with the divestment requirements set by the commission, he will have to formally shut down his campaign. Wolf's withdrawal would help pave the way for Grossman to win the primary. Massachusetts is a staunchly blue state, and, without any declared Republican candidates thus far, it's a safe bet that the Democratic nominee will also be the next governor.

See also: State executive official elections, 2013
State Executive Official Elections Results in 2013
Office Incumbent Incumbent Party Incumbent Running? 2013 Winner Partisan switch?
Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie Ends.png Republican Yes Pending
Lieutenant Governor of New Jersey Kim Guadagno Ends.png Republican Yes Pending
Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell Ends.png Republican No Pending
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Bill Bolling Ends.png Republican No Pending
Attorney General of Virginia Ken Cuccinelli Ends.png Republican No (running for governor) Pending
Superintendent of Wisconsin Tony Evers Grey.png Nonpartisan Yes Tony Evers No
Mark your calendar
November 5General election in New Jersey and Virginia

There are three states holding state executive official elections in 2013 -- New Jersey, Virginia and Wisconsin. A total of six officials will be elected. The attention-grabbing positions up for election are Governor of New Jersey and Governor of Virginia. Both made The Washington Post’s list of the top five races to watch in 2013.


The first state executive election in 2013 took place in Wisconsin on April 2, 2013. Incumbent Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers won re-election to a second term against challenger Don Pridemore.[31] Evers, a career educator, handily defeated Don Pridemore, a Wisconsin State Assemblyman since 2005. Although the Superintendent of Public Instruction is a nonpartisan position, Evers is a Democrat and Pridemore is a Republican.

The race attracted considerable buzz in the lead-up to the election, owing in large part to the controversial education proposals put forth by Gov. Scott Walker (R) in his 2013-2015 budget plan, as well as Pridemore's penchant for provoking the media - with dramatic pronouncements about his campaign agenda or else by creating a blacklist of a number of "liberal"[32] political reporters.[33][34]

Evers received over 61% of the vote, equalling 487,030 votes. This figure points to Evers' growth in popularity since his initial election to the post back in 2009, when he won 439,248 votes and a roughly 15 percentage point victory over a different single challenger, Rose Fernandez.

Below are the official results of the superintendent race, certified by the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board on April 23.[35]

Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction General Election, 2013
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngTony Evers Incumbent 61.1% 487,030
     Nonpartisan Don Pridemore 38.7% 308,050
     Scattering Various 0.2% 1,431
Total Votes 796,511
Election Results via Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (dead link).



Current Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R) is ineligible to run for re-election in 2013 because of term limits. The term limits Virginia imposes on its governors are more strict than any other state in the country: under the commonwealth's constitution, no governor may serve back-to-back terms. This means that McDonnell, unlike other governors in their first term, is ineligible to run for re-election until a full term has passed.

There are no such term limits on the attorney general, and many were surprised at current AG Ken Cuccinelli's (R) decision to run for governor rather than seek another term. If not for Cuccinelli, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling would have been the frontrunner for the Republican nomination to succeed current Governor Bob McDonnell. Bolling expressed more disappointment than surprise that Cuccinelli had chose to challenge him in the gubernatorial primary rather than be his lieutenant gubernatorial running-mate, noting "nothing he does surprises me."[36]

Bolling suspended his campaign on November 28, 2012, citing his slim chances beating tea party favorite and attorney general Ken Cuccinelli for the party's nomination. Bolling's withdrawal stems from a decision by Virginia Republicans to change their method for selecting gubernatorial nominees from open primary election to closed nominating convention.[37] Although Bolling was explicit about ending his pursuit of a place on the Republican ticket, he waited until March 12 before ruling out the possibility of running as an independent candidate instead.[38] About the alternative of seeking re-election to his current post, Bolling stated that, “Under normal circumstances, I would be open to the possibility of running for another term as lieutenant governor, but I would not be interested in running on a statewide ticket with Mr. Cuccinelli.”[39] He later said he regretted dropping out of the race as early as he did.[40]

McDonnell had previously pledged his support for Bolling's candidacy- in part because Bolling refrained from challenging McDonnell for governor in 2009. After Bolling bowed out, McDonnell chose to endorse fellow Republican Cuccinelli for his successor, despite Cuccinelli's outspoken opposition to McDonnell's Transportation Initiative, which is considered to be the centerpiece of his gubernatorial legacy. Ironically, Cuccinelli's future general election opponent, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, has been equally outspoken on the issue, but as an advocate and defender of the outgoing governor's approach to amending the state's transportation funding policy.[41][42][43]

In response to the major party nominees, the Libertarian Party held a special convention and nominated Robert Sarvis as the party's official gubernatorial candidate.[44]

Like Cuccinelli and Sarvis, McAuliffe faced no primary contest. The three contenders will square off in the general election on November 5, 2013.[45]

On August 2, 2013, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) revealed government documents implicating McAuliffe in a possible investment fraud being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (S.E.C.). Grassley's findings that McAuliffe received special treatment from a high-ranking immigration official further entrenched the candidate in the controversy surrounding Greentech Automotive, a failed electric car company which he founded. Due to its poor performance and its employment of Hillary Rodham Clinton's brother, who handled the company's capital and is thus the target of the investigation, the environmental venture was a blemish on McAuliffe's campaign platform for reinvigorating the state's economy using his knowledge as an experienced businessman and successful job creator. The well-publicized development linking McAuliffe to the suspected fraud has made that blemish more pronounced and is considered to be a threat to his chances of overtaking Cuccinelli in the November general election. Cuccinelli had been the beleaguered candidate of the pair up until the Greentech S.E.C. investigation scandal broke and opened McAuliffe up for criticism regarding his history of "mingling politics and business."[46]

Governor of Virginia
Poll Terry McAuliffe (D) Ken Cuccinelli (R)Robert Sarvis (L)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Poll
(July 11-14, 2013)
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Governor of Virginia: Cuccinelli v. McAuliffe
Poll Terry McAuliffe (D) Ken Cuccinelli (R)UndecidedMargin of ErrorSample Size
Quinnipiac University
(Feb. 14-18, 2013)
Roanoke College Poll
(April 8-14, 2013)
Washington Post (Registered Voters)
(April 29-May 2, 2013)
Washington Post (Likely Voters)
(April 29-May 2, 2013)
NBC News/Marist Poll
(April 28-May 2, 2013)
Quinnipiac University
(May 8-13, 2013)
Public Policy Polling
(May 24-26, 2013)
Rasmussen Reports Poll
(June 5-6, 2013)
Quinnipiac University Poll
(July 11-15, 2013)
AVERAGES 40.44% 40.56% 18% +/-3.39 930.44
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Lieutenant Governor

Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R) is not seeking re-election this year. Nine candidates filed to fill the imminently-open executive seat, including two Democrats and seven Republicans. State Sen. Ralph Northam defeated Aneesh Chopra for the Democratic Party's nomination for lieutenant governor in the June 11 primary election.[47] Northam's general election opponent is Republican E.W. Jackson. Jackson was nominated by delegates of the Virginia Republican Party at the party-funded statewide primary convention on May 17-18.[48]

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Poll Ralph Northam (D) E.W. Jackson (R)Not sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Poll
(May 24-26, 2013)
Public Policy Poll
(July 11-14, 2013)
AVERAGES 38.5% 32% 29.5% +/-3.9 636.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

Attorney General

In March 2013, Governing magazine rated Virginia's open attorney general seat as "vulnerable" heading into the 2013-2014 elections because incumbent Republican Ken Cuccinelli is not running for re-election.[49]

The race to replace Cuccinelli began at the primary nomination stage; both Republican convention and Democratic election candidates drew primary contests. On May 18, two "strong fiscal and social conservatives"[49] -- state Sen. Mark Obenshain and state Rep. Rob Bell -- competed for delegate votes at the Republican Party of Virginia's closed nominating convention, which Obenshain won.[50] The nominee's late father, GOP politician Richard Obenshain, died in a plane crash during his 1978 campaign for U.S. Senate. Obenshain will square off against state Sen. Mark Herring in the general election. Herring defeated former assistant U.S. Attorney for Virginia Justin Fairfax in the Democratic primary election, which took place on June 11, 2013.[51][49]

With both the Republican convention and Democratic primary election now over, the ballots for the Nov. 5 general election are set for major party candidates seeking the open seats of governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. The candidates include:

Attorney General of Virginia
Poll Mark Herring (D) Mark Obenshain (R)Not sureMargin of ErrorSample Size
Public Policy Poll
(May 24-28, 2013)
Public Policy Poll
(July 11-14, 2013)
AVERAGES 35.5% 34% 29.5% +/-3.9 636.5
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to

New Jersey

Incumbent Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono faced one challenger each in the primary election on June 4, though ultimately neither presented much of a challenge. Both won their respective party nominations with roughly 90% of the vote.[52][53]

Former Atlantic City Councilman Seth Grossman was the sole Republican to brave a run against the popular first term governor, whose star has long been on the rise but turned meteoric in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Grossman's campaign criticized Christie for being overly moderate, while Buono's opponent Troy Webster, adviser to the mayor of East Orange, believed he was uniquely suited to making New Jersey friendlier to "the working poor and middle class families who have been literally 'thrown under the bus.'"[54] Grossman and Webster were endorsed by the weekly publication NJ Today.[55]

In New Jersey, gubernatorial candidates have 30 days to select a lieutenant gubernatorial running mate to share the ticket with in the general election. Immediately after launching his re-election campaign, Christie secured his current Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno as his running mate, while Buono waited until July 29 to formally announce her choice of union leader Milly Silva as her running mate. Silva is the executive vice president of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.[56][57] The two-woman ticket will be up against incumbent Republican governor/lt. governor pair Chris Christie and Kim Guadagno in addition to a number of third party opponents in the general election contest taking place November 5, 2013.

Christie is heavily favored to win re-election, with his campaign raising nearly double that of Buono's so far and averaging a 30% edge over his Democratic competitor in the latest polls.[58][59] He also has bipartisan support, which is crucial in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 700,000, according to party registration statistics provided by the New Jersey Department of State.[60]

The New Jersey gubernatorial election was rated by the Washington Post as one of the top five races to watch in 2013.[61]

General election

(gov & lt. gov running-mate listed together)


State Executive Official Elections

AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansasCaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelawareFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansasLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew MexicoNew YorkNorth DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotaTennesseeTexasUtahVermontWisconsinWyoming
Table of Contents
Partisan breakdown
Candidates by office
Voter turnout
Key deadlines
State executive organization
Ballotpedia reports
Recent news
See also
See also
See also: State executive official elections, 2014

Ballotpedia has counted and is currently tracking a total of 215 state executive positions in 42 states that will be on the ballot next year. That is more than double the number of positions that were elected in 2012, when 94 positions were elected. The eight states that are not holding executive official elections in 2014 are Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

The offices up for election include:

Notable candidates

  • Attorney General of Oklahoma Scott Pruitt (R) formally announced on July 29 that he would be seeking re-election.[76]
  • Current Rhode Island Secretary of State Ralph Mollis (D), who is ineligible to run for re-election due to term limits, confirmed that he intends to run for Lieutenant Governor. Current lieutenant governor Elizabeth Roberts (D) is also term-limited, leaving the position open.[77]
  • 2010 runner-up for Governor of Rhode Island John Robitaille (R) is considering another bid for the state’s top post. Robitaille originally said he would not run but has reconsidered “based on the changes in the political landscape,” namely Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s switch earlier this year from Independent to Democratic.[78]
  • Democrat William "Bill" Daley, a past U.S. Commerce Secretary and White House chief of staff, has officially announced that he will challenge current incumbent Pat Quinn in the 2014 governor race.[79] Daley raised $800,000 in the three week period bridging the exploratory and formal launch phases of his gubernatorial bid. The Associated Press called Daley "a member of Chicago's first political family,"[79] being the brother and son of two of Chicago's longest-reigning and most influential mayors. These connections do not bode well for Quinn's already bleak prospects heading into his re-election campaign.

252px-Question book-3 trans.png

Q. In what year was the first African-American governor elected? Lt. Governor?


L. Douglas Wilder (b. January 7, 1931) became the first African-American to be elected as governor when Virginia voters selected him to lead their state in 1989. The grandson of slaves, Wilder worked his way up the state’s political system in a series of firsts, becoming the first African-American elected to the Virginia State Senate (1969) since reconstruction and the first African-American to win statewide office when he was elected as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1985. He served as a Democrat.[80]

The first African-American lieutenant governor, Oscar J. Dunn, was elected on the Republican ticket in Louisiana, serving from 1868 to 1871. A self-educated slave, Dunn purchased his own freedom and served in the Union Army during the Civil War.[81][82]


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  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named bio
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  7., "Update: Education Commissioner Bennett's resignation effective immediately," August 1, 2013
  8. Tampa Bay Times, "Former Indiana superintendent is Florida's new education commissioner," December 12, 2012
  9., "New Fla. education commissioner followed Bush lead," January 14, 2013
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  14. '"East Valley Tribune, "Mesa's Crandall tapped to lead Wyoming education department," July 1, 2013
  15. Billings Gazette, "Wyoming education dir. brings business background," June 27, 2013
  16. Arizona State Legislature, “Rich Crandall,” accessed July 9, 2013
  17. Chicago Tribune, "Editorial: Lawmakers will miss another paycheck? Awww," August 7, 2013
  18. Huffington Post, “ Pat Quinn, Illinois Governor, Suspends Pay for State Lawmakers amid Pension Inaction,” July 10, 2013
  19. Chicago Tribune, “ Madigan, Cullerton sue Quinn over blocked lawmaker paychecks,” July 30, 2013
  20. NBC Chicago, “ Judges Set September Arguments in Lawmaker Pay Suit,” August 6, 2013
  21. Chicago Tribune, “ Illinois lawmakers to miss 2nd paycheck,” August 6, 2013
  22. FOX 6 Now, "Increased security in Milwaukee as governors arrive for NGA meeting," August 1, 2013
  23. Washington Post, “ The National Governors Association meeting – in 7 photos,” August 4, 2013
  24. National Governors Association, “National Governors Association Gathers in Milwaukee for Summer Meeting,” August 2, 2013 (dead link)
  25. National Governors Association, “NGA Announces New Executive Committee Leadership,” August 4, 2013
  26. Boston Globe, "Patrick says he will serve out full term," January 4, 2011
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  40. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, "Bolling regrets dropping out of the race so soon," April 22, 2013
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  75. Rutgers-Eagleton Poll, November 27, 2012
  76. Tulsa World, "Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to seek re-election," July 29, 2013 (dead link)
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  79. 79.0 79.1, "Daley files paperwork for governor run," June 10, 2013
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