Ruth Ann Minner

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Ruth Ann Minner
Ruth Ann Minner.jpg
Governor of Delaware
Former officeholder
In office
PredecessorThomas R. Carper (D)
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 2004
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Delaware State Senate
Delaware House of Representatives
High schoolGED (1968)
OtherDelaware Technical and Community College
Date of birthJanuary 17, 1935
Place of birthSussex County, Delaware
Ruth Ann Minner (born January 17, 1935, in Sussex County, Delaware) is a Delaware politician and businesswoman. Minner is former two term Democratic Governor of Delaware, serving two terms from 2001-2009. She was first elected in November 2000 and won re-election in 2004. In her second inaugural address in January 2005, Minner concluded with this description of her philosophy: "for Ruth Ann Minner, farmer, gardener and daughter of a sharecropper, it is simply this: Work hard. Do the right thing. And leave things better than you found them."[1][2]

Minner was sworn in as Delaware's first female governor on January 3, 2001. She was the nation’s oldest serving governor and, in January 2008, she also became the longest-serving female governor in U.S. history.[3]

Delaware’s fourth consecutive two term governor, Minner followed in the footsteps of her predecessors in terms of a bipartisan, consensus-driven style of leadership. She upheld the thread of business oriented policies introduced by former Gov. Pierre S. du Pont, a Republican who served from 1977-1985. She was usually described as a "middle-of-the-road politician, with conservative fiscal views but progressive social policies."[4] Her tenure focused on education, environmental and health care issues, smoking and navigating the state through the national economic crisis. Indeed, her crowning achievements include her successful fiscal management of the state's budget amid the recession, as well as her support of efforts to curb the state cancer rate with the Clean Indoor Air Act. Her latter work resulted in Delaware implementing a prohibition on smoking in most public places, the first state in the country to do so.[5]

Before assuming the governorship, Minner served two terms as the state's lieutenant governor.

She also served as a Democratic member of both chambers of the Delaware General Assembly, from 1975-2001.[1]


Minner was born Ruth Ann Coverdale, at Slaughter Neck in Cedar Creek Hundred, Sussex County, Delaware, near Milford. While growing up, she left high school at age 16 to help support her family. Subsequently she married Frank Ingram, with whom she had three children. When she was 32, her husband died suddenly of a heart attack, leaving her a single mother with three children. She earned her GED in 1968, and later attended Delaware Technical and Community College, while working two jobs to support the family. In 1969, she married Roger Minner and together they operated a family towing business, the Roger Minner Wrecker Service. Roger Minner died of cancer in 1991.[1]


  • General Education Development (GED) Diploma (1968)
  • Delaware Technical and Community College

Political career

Governor of Delaware (2001-2009)

Minner was elected Governor of Delaware in 2000. She had secured the Democratic nomination by her long years in the General Assembly and as Lieutenant Governor, and had demonstrated her ability to run a campaign by her large state wide victory margins in 1992 and 1996. Her opponent in 2000 was Republican John M. Burris, who had barely survived a bitter September primary contest with retired judge William Swain Lee. With many hard feelings and only two months to recover, he led a badly divided Republican Party.

As the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, Minner took office upon the resignation of Governor Thomas R. Carper on January 3, 2001, and began her own first term on January 16 2001. As Governor, she was a member of both the National Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association.[1]

In 2004 Republican candidate William Swain Lee was given his chance to unseat Minner and ran a strong campaign, especially capitalizing on a growing awareness of problems in the state's prison system. Nevertheless, incumbency is highly valued in Delaware and Minner was re-elected, albeit by a much smaller margin. She retired at the end of her term to spend time with her family and was succeeded in office by Democrat Jack Markell in January 2009.[2]


Smoking in public places

One of Miller's stated goals as governor was to curtail the growing rate of cancer in the state by targeting indoor smoking. She helped pass the Clean Indoor Air Act and led Delaware to become the first state in the nation to outlaw smoking inside most public places. "When I took office, I was determined to reduce Delaware's high cancer rates," she said. "A task force...has created a road map of specific steps necessary...and I am implementing that plan. [One] result has been...the Clean Indoor Air Act, which has reduced cancerous pollutants in Delaware's restaurants, bars and casinos by more than 90 percent."[5]


Regarding education, she said "While it might be popular, it is not demanding to set standards that all students can meet right away...Once high standards have been set, the key is to give our students, educators and parents the tools to continuously improve." She "supports giving local schools control of [most] new education dollars...expanding after-school and weekend class programs...and supports reading and math specialists." She opposed vouchers.[6] "In 2005, she signed legislation creating the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) Scholarship program, which enables students who keep their grades up and stay out of trouble to go to college for free in the state of Delaware. She also expanded her education specialist program, which has placed reading specialists in every elementary school, to also include a plan to place math specialists in every Delaware middle school."[3]

Gay rights

On other issues she was "a firm supporter of a measure that would simply add sexual orientation to the list of characteristics in the Delaware code...that are not allowed to be used as basis for discrimination." She "opposes new gun control legislation," but supports "legislation requiring mandatory trigger locks and gun safety courses in schools." And she said "I do not support additional sites or kinds of gambling...the state should not become any more reliant on this form of revenue."

Climate change

In February of 2007, Minner forbade Professor David Legates, the Delaware State Climatologist and a professor at the University of Delaware, from using his title as State Climatologist in statements skeptical of man's ability to effect the climate.

Lieutenant Governor of Delaware (1993-2001)

Minner was elected Lieutenant Governor in 1992 and served two terms from January 19, 1993 to January 3, 2001. While in that position she chaired the Minner Commission on Government Reorganization and Effectiveness.

Delaware State Legislature (1975-2001)

Minner began her political career as a clerk in the Delaware House of Representatives and as a receptionist in the office of Governor Sherman W. Tribbitt. In 1974, she was elected to the State House as a member of the "Watergate Class," a group of newly elected legislators from both parties, who came into office on a "good government" mission, and a strong sense of their ability to make significant improvements. Minner rose to become Delaware's most powerful female politician, but she did it in a very conventional way, representing a rural, small town constituency, and building relationships and expertise by working in the legislative process over many years. She served four terms in the State House, from the 1975/1976 session through the 1981/82 session. At various times she served as House Majority Whip and chair of the powerful Bond Bill Committee. She also chaired the Rules Committee. In that role she led several successful reforming efforts, including a change that removed the rule allowing Representatives to table roll call votes. This rule was used to help schedule votes when only the right combinations of Representatives were on the floor.[7]

In 1982, Minner was elected to the Delaware Senate and served there from the 1983/1984 session through the 1991/1992 session. While in the State Senate, Minner was noted for her sponsorship of the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Act, a key piece of legislation that protected 30,000 acres (120 km) of land and created the Delaware Open Space Council. To fund the activities of this Council, the General Assembly created the "Twenty-First Century Fund" from the proceeds of a multi-million dollar corporate securities lawsuit.[1]


Minner and her first husband, the late Frank Ingram, had three children together: Frank Jr., Wayne and Gary. Her second husband, Roger Minner, died of cancer in 1991. She currently lives on a farm in Milford, Delaware. In addition to her three sons, she has seven grandchildren, a great-granddaughter and two step-great-grandsons.[1]

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See also

External links

Governor of Delaware, "The Governor's Biography," accessed April 10, 2014
The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine was used to recall this version of the website from June 17, 2007.


  • Governing Delaware by William W. Boyer, University of Delaware Press, 2000, ISBN: 1-892142-23-6
  • Only in Delaware, Politics and Politicians in the First State by Celia Cohen, Grapevine Publishing, 2002
  • Democracy in Delaware by Carol E. Hoffecker, Cedar Tree Books, 2004, ISBN: 1-892142-23-6
  • Memoirs of the Senate by Roger A. Martin, 1995
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 National Governors Assocation, "Former Governors' Bios: Delaware Governor Ruth Ann Minner," accessed April 10, 2014
  2. 2.0 2.1 USA Hero, "Ruth Ann Minner," accessed April 10, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 Governor of Delaware, "The Governor's Biography," June 17, 2007
  4. USA Today, "Candidate Profile," accessed April 10, 2014
  5. 5.0 5.1 Voters Guide 2004, Sunday News Journal, p. 5, Oct. 24, 2004
  6. Voters Guide 2000, Sunday News Journal, p. 5, Oct. 29, 2000
  7. Democracy in Delaware by Carol E. Hoffecker, Cedar Tree Books, Wilmington, Delaware, 2004, ISBN: 1-892142-23-6
Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas R. Carper (D)
Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Jack Markell (D)