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20 new governors to take office following election

November 08, 2018

With 36 governorships up for election — and more than half those open either due to retirements, term limits, or lost primaries — new faces were guaranteed in state offices across the country. As a result of Tuesday’s voting, 20 new governors will be taking office and 16 of 18 incumbent governors that were on the ballot on Tuesday will be serving another term (Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker were the only incumbent governors. defeated on Tuesday). Democrats flipped governor’s seats in seven states (Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico and Wisconsin), while Republicans picked up one (Alaska).  

SSTI reviewed all of the major party gubernatorial candidates’ platforms prior to the election, and here presents the election results for the 36 seats as well as the positions the winners had expressed on innovation and technology-based economic development issues.


Incumbent Republican Gov. Kay Ivey won her first full term in office by defeating Democratic challenger Walt Maddox, the mayor of Tuscaloosa, with nearly 63 percent of vote. She became governor when her predecessor resigned.  During the campaign, Ivey touted her past performance with regard to economic development as well as the state’s record low unemployment rate and other economic successes related to job creation and business investment.


Former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) won the Alaska gubernatorial race. He defeated former U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D) with 45 percent of the vote to Begich's 37.5 percent, and represents the only Republican pickup in the 2018 gubernatorial elections. According to Vox, Dunleavy ran on a "Make American Safe Again" platform – explicitly emulating a Trump-like message and promising to cut taxes and state spending, while leaving the state's permanent fund untouched. He also calls for a $4 billion spending cap.


Republican Gov. Dug Ducey won a second-term in office, beating his Democratic opponent David Garcia 57.8 percent to 40.2 percent. When elected in 2014, Ducey promised to shrink government and grow Arizona's economy by eliminating unnecessary regulations, simplifying the state's tax code, and recruiting businesses from surrounding states or from states with higher tax rates or regulatory burdens. During his first term, Ducey said he accomplished those goals through reduction of the size of Arizona' state government via consolidating agencies; has cut over 700 regulations (the equivalent of a $50 million tax reduction); and reformed and simplified the tax codes. Additionally, the state has fully recovered all jobs lost during the Great Recession, and Arizona added an additional 240,000 new jobs since 2015. The governor also touts the more than 300 companies that have relocated their businesses to the state. In his bid for a second term, Ducey promised to build upon those achievements. 


Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) easily won a second term to the state's highest office by garnering 65.4 percent of the vote. He beat Jared Henderson (D), a former Teach for America executive. When elected in 2014, Hutchinson promised to implement a number of workforce–oriented initiatives to better connect Arkansas' education system with employer needs. The governor also pledged to develop a computer science curriculum with statewide technology leaders to be implemented in the state's public schools. Running on his first-term successes, the governor's bid for a second term involves five key points- known as "Asa's Plan," which include tax cuts and more efficient government.


California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will succeed term-limited Gov. Jerry Brown as the state's next head of state. Newsom easily defeated his opponent, Republican businessman John Cox, by winning 59.3 percent of the vote. Cox received 40.7 percent. Newsom is focused on building an upward economy for the state of California and intends to address the state's income inequality and unequal opportunities. He believes that education is economic development and is key to addressing inequalities while fostering growth and inclusion. Newsom supports the California Promise program, the state's STEM education initiatives (and vows to equip every student with access to a STEM education) and expansion of broadband — he has vowed to continue the expansion of California's broadband infrastructure (universal access to high-speed) — and is advocating for a computer science for all initiative. Newsom pledges to expand the state's one-year free tuition at community colleges to two. In addition, he advocates collaborating with the schools to advance three initiatives: (1) develop transformation maps for every cluster, industry and region of the state in order to prepare students for the jobs that exist, while developing relevant curriculum to meet current and future workforce and skills needs; (2) establish 500,000 apprenticeships by 2029 in order to create a new vocational pipeline of high-skilled workers with an expansion of earn-and-learn apprenticeships and successful labor management programs in advanced manufacturing, energy, health, and info technology; and (3) provide individual skill accounts for Californians seeking employment – these accounts would be established with the backing of businesses, labor and government to tap the resources of California's community college system to assist in training and job placement. Additionally, Newsom has vowed to drive California's innovation by increasing the state's R&D, boosting manufacturing sectors, gearing workforce training toward demands and increasing exports, and catalyzing business startups and expansion through fostering regional and cluster-based collaborations, partnering with industry, academic institutions, and communities.


Self-made entrepreneur and former Boulder Congressman Jared Polis (D) defeated his GOP opponent, state treasurer Walker Stapleton, 51.9 percent to Stapleton's 44.6 percent.  Polis ran on a platform of "bold" ideas.  He campaigned on the need for Colorado to adapt to a changing economy. He pledges to reduce income equality, assist and revitalize rural and coal communities, and change the state's economy from the bottom up. In addition, he has a statewide broadband plan and advocates for tax reform. He seeks to assist Colorado's rural communities through establishment or expansion of workforce commissions that would assist residents in locating meaningful employment, retrain for a new career, or become an entrepreneur; he pledges to revitalize rural Colorado by bringing the manufacturing, forestry, agriculture and renewable energy industries and development to communities that already have the re-trained or skilled workers needed. Polis advocates for the creation of a blue-ribbon commission to ensure that Colorado is in the best position to address the challenges of the future, such as automation. As governor, he promises to collaborate with local governments to create strategic regional broadband plans and encourage state agencies to assist in the building of reliable internet across the state using existing resources. Polis also seeks to establish the state as a national hub for blockchain innovation in business and government.


Ned Lamont (D) narrowly edged out his Republican opponent. Lamont, who will face a large budget deficit, campaigned on a commitment to higher education and supporting programs he calls a “best fit for Connecticut residents,” including apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs, career schools and two-year community colleges. Lamont also wants to expand access to higher education – including to older individuals – by making Connecticut community colleges tuition-free to in-state students who commit to living and working in Connecticut for a period after they graduate. He said he would also prioritize expansion of public-private partnerships between the state’s major employers and community colleges. He would open coding academies and training bootcamps in the state; have state government take the lead and develop apprenticeship programs; and, continue discussions between business communities, educational institutions of all levels and organized labor to understand the needs of the 21st century workforce. To address climate change, Lamont would commit Connecticut to a further reduction in carbon emissions from current levels of 35 percent by 2030, 70 percent by 2040, and be carbon neutral by 2050. He would also look to grow jobs in the clean energy field.


Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly defeated his Democratic opponent. DeSantis’s platform was light on details, but included opposing tax increases and promoting “skills-based education,” vocational training and charter schools. During Republican primary debates, DeSantis also voiced support for using tax incentives to recruit businesses.


In Georgia, the Democratic candidate, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams has not conceded the race and is considering legal options to dispute the results of the elections. With 99 percent of precincts reporting, the state’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) is unofficially leading Abrams by about 63,000 votes and approximately 50.3 percent of the vote. State law requires a runoff between the top two vote getters if one candidate does not receive at least 50 percent of the vote in the general election.


Hawaii Gov. David Ige (D) easily defeated state House Minority Leader Andria Tupola (R) for a second-term. Ige won 62.7 percent of the vote to Tuploa's 33.7 percent. When elected in 2014, he promised to develop partnerships among the state's universities, research institutions and TBED groups in order to establish Hawaii as the innovation center of the Pacific. He also pledged to cultivate support systems for innovation and implement incentives to attract tech firms. The governor planned to focus on making capital available for startups in strategic industries, including IT, healthcare, energy and agriculture. During his first term, the governor supported the development of a new STEM Education Building at Waimea Middle School that offers a new educational approach using Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics. He expanded the Early College program so Hawaii public high school students can take courses to earn high school and college credits and created the “Hawaii’s Promise” program with the University of Hawaii Community College, which eliminates the cost of college as a barrier to higher education. Ige has promised to build upon these accomplishments in his second term.


Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little (R) defeated former State Rep. Paulette Jordan (D) to become Idaho's next governor. Little received 60 percent of the vote to Jordan's 37.9 percent. As governor, he has pledged a highly trained state workforce (Idaho Grown Jobs plan) and a responsive education system (Education plan). Additionally, he promises a tax system that is fair, simple, competitive and predictable, and with the lightest possible hand of government in the day-to-day of Idahoans and businesses.


Democrat J.B. Pritzker was elected governor of Illinois with 54 percent of the vote, successfully defeating the one-term incumbent Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner. Pritzker’s economic plan for Illinois focuses on infrastructure and small businesses. Pritzker is proposing a “21st Century Capital Bill” that would seek to leverage the maximum possible amount of federal money to improve the state’s road, rail, waterway, and broadband infrastructure, with an emphasis on rural areas. To improve the state’s small business environment, Pritzker has emphasized re-funding programs that received cuts during the Rauner administration. These programs include funding for the state’s technology incubators, small business development centers, matching funds and seed grants that help university-based startups leverage federal funds, and university research efforts and cooperatives focused on renewable energy. Pritzker’s platform also includes programs related to economic inclusion, youth apprenticeships, and access to capital for startups.


Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds won her first full term, by beating Des Moines businessman, and former interim director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Fred Hubbell (D), garnering 50.4 percent of the vote to Hubbell's 47.4 percent. Reynolds ran primarily on former Gov. Terry Branstad's and her records and vowed to further the policies and agenda started under her tenure as lieutenant governor. Reynold's top priorities are job creation, cutting taxes and investing in Iowa's public education, in particular, the state's STEM education programs.


Democratic State Sen. Laura Kelly flipped the state by defeating both Kansas' Secretary of State, Kris Kobach (R), and Kansas City businessman, Greg Orman (I), in a tightly contested three-way race. Kelly received 47.8 percent of the vote to Kobach's 43.3 percent and Orman's 6.5 percent, respectively. While Kelly supports and would continue to invest in the traditional engines that drive prosperity — public education, job training and infrastructure — she believes that the state's next leaders must think more like entrepreneurs and less like politicians. As governor, Kelly vows to "innovate" and would craft creative strategic investment plans for the jobs of the future. Some of Kelly's priorities are investing in workforce via an education plan. She pledges to invest in higher education, including technical and trade schools, as well as job training programs. As part of workforce investment, Kelly wants the creation or expansion of high school technical programs, community college certification programs, and college or university tuition relief. She also advocates improving the digital infrastructure (broadband expansion) and investing in the state's rural communities.


Democrat Janet Mills became the first woman elected as governor of Maine and will replace the outgoing controversial and term-limited Republican Gov. Paul LePage. Mills outlined her vision for economic development in an action plan, which includes plans to create a small business accelerator; launch job growth loans to provide 18 months of no-interest loans for small businesses that want to finance adding a new employee; establish a program to help former and future Mainers bring their current job to Maine so they can work remotely but live in the state; and, provide a rural workplace grant to help communities convert a downtown building into a co-working space with high-speed broadband for small businesses and remote workers. Additionally, she laid out plans to consolidate 15 agencies into a new Maine Growth Authority dedicated to economic development, financing and workforce training.


Republican Gov. Larry Hogan was elected to a second term. Hogan campaigned on his record of lowering taxes and reducing regulation. While Hogan’s administration has continued to make investments in economic development and TBED, his reelection platform did not address a programmatic vision for the economy. The campaign’s education platform noted Hogan’s support for funding primary and secondary education, limiting tuition increases and implementing P-TECH schools.


Gov. Charlie Baker (R) won reelection. The ticket’s campaign site did not list any specific policies or issues to be addressed in a second term but did point to recognition for having an innovative economy and an initiative to keep four-year degrees under $30,000. Over the past four years, Baker has signed bills to expand workforce training and increase economic development spending, as well as proposed a $500 million life sciences initiative


In Michigan, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, a former state representative, was elected governor with roughly 53 percent of the vote, defeating the state’s Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette. Whitmer’s platform promised to cut red tape and streamline the state’s regulatory system to encourage small business growth and startups. The MI Opportunity Scholarship proposed by Whitmer would be a two-year, debt-free plan to help those pursuing careers in skilled trades. The related Michigan Reconnect program would offer workforce development services to adults in need of retraining, a youth-focused workforce program, and a program targeting veterans. Other elements of Whitmer’s “better skills, better jobs for Michigan” strategy include, placemaking, reinstating historical building and brownfield redevelopment credits, creating a state land acquisition program, growing the state’s defense industry, and regularly evaluating MEDC programs. Whitmer is also proposing a repeal of the state’s right to work law, raising the state’s minimum wage, and enforcing equal pay for equal work laws.


U.S. Rep. Tim Walz, Minnesota's Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) candidate, defeated former state Rep. and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson (R) to succeed Mark Dayton as the state's new governor. Walz received 53.9 percent of the vote to Johnson's 42.4 percent. As part of Walz's platform, he has pledged to give every Minnesota student the opportunity to a higher education by providing two years tuition free education at state universities for individuals whose families make less than $125,000 a year.  He also would re-invest in the Minnesota Investment Fund and the Minnesota Job Creation Fund to assist startups in creating new jobs; remove barriers to economic growth by encouraging equity and inclusion through such initiatives as connecting rural residents through expansion of broadband; and, close the opportunities gap for minorities. Walz advocates for a $1 billion bonding bill to improve the state's infrastructure and proposes expanding the renewable energy standard to keep the state's clean economy growing and creating jobs.


Republican incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts won a second term in the state's mid-term election. Ricketts easily defeated Republican-turned- Democrat state Sen. Bob Krist with 59.4 percent of the vote to Krist's 40.6 percent. When elected in 2014, Rickett's pledged to use the state's Department of Economic Development to shape regional economic blueprints of growth, increase public-private collaboration in education and training initiatives across the state, and designate a position within the Department of Education to partner with private-sector leaders to promote manufacturing, and make it a priority focus of the state's economic development efforts. In a second term, the governor is vowing to grow jobs, create opportunity, and grow the economy through more effective, efficient and customer-focused state government. He pledges to continue to build upon his first-term accomplishments by further eliminating unnecessary government regulations, reducing taxes, in particular to providing property tax relief, and continuing to streamline spending in the state's budget.


Nevada's Steve Sisolak (D) defeated the state's Attorney General Adam Laxalt (R), 49.4 percent to 45.3 percent, respectively. It is the first time in 20 years that Nevada has elected a Democratic governor. Sisolak's campaign focused largely on the need to diversify Nevada's economy. He pledged to enact policies that will bring diversification and support the state's small and homegrown businesses, and seek to attract new industries to the state, especially clean energy, manufacturing and medical research, by leveraging the state's geography and resources via promoting partnerships between professional technical training programs and employers. Additionally, he supports STEM initiatives and high school apprenticeships, as well as more state-sponsored professional technical training programs.

New Hampshire

Gov. Chris Sununu (R) was reelected as governor. While he had not staked out specific positions on a platform, he cited his record from his first term, including making investments in clean water projects, expanding educational opportunities for students and signing tax cuts into law. He also noted that he has created the Dept. of Business and Economic Affairs and established the New Hampshire Robotics Education Fund to prepare students for work in the 21st century and takes credit for $5 million in higher education scholarships.

New Mexico

U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham flipped the state when she defeated fellow U.S. Congressman Steve Pearce (R) to become the first Democratic Latina governor of New Mexico. Lujan Grisham won 56.9 percent of the vote to Pearce's 43.1 percent. Lujan Grisham had campaigned on her "Build New Mexico" platform – a four-step plan that would create a governor's Commerce Cabinet; create a governor's Council on Entrepreneurial Development to drive focused strategies related to development of small- and medium-sized businesses, particularly in emerging industries; and create a Sector Strategy Council that would bring the state's universities, businesses, unions, labs and community leaders together to coordinate industry-driven development in sectors with potential for growth. She also would develop four centers of excellence at New Mexico's state universities to build industries and create jobs. She would diversify the state's economy and drive investment in sectors including cybersecurity, intelligent manufacturing, sustainable and green industries, bioscience and health, and aerospace. Her plan also would develop specific public-private partnership strategies to create jobs through driving technology transfer and research commercialization, and bolster the state's entrepreneurial ecosystem. She also has 10-specific job creation proposals, known as Jumpstart New Mexico. Other policy goals or initiatives that Lujan Grisham advocates are greater access to broadband across the state, and support for business incubators in the state's rural areas and small towns. Lujan Grisham vows to enhance the state's public education by adopting rigorous competency-based science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) standards, and expand dual degree technical programs, access to apprenticeships, and opportunities for students to develop the critical thinking and entrepreneurial skills needed today and in the future. She seeks to improve graduation rates and stem the state's brain drain by prepping every student for success in college or career. As for workforce development and training, Lujan Grisham vows to make community colleges an essential driver in the state's economic development by crafting stronger, centralized programs and resources.

New York

In New York, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) defeated Republican candidate Marcus Molinaro with 59 percent of the vote, successfully winning a third term. A key component of Cuomo’s strategy has been The Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) initiative. The REDC is comprised of 10 public-private regional partnerships that have developed strategic plans for economic growth and compete for funding to implement projects around workforce development, industry clusters, and infrastructure. Other strategies employed by the Cuomo administration have been: investment into the AIM Photonics Institute in Rochester, one of the nine Manufacturing USA institutes; the Excelsior Scholarship, which offers certain residents free tuition at state universities; and Start-Up NY, which offers 10 years of tax subsidies to technology startups choosing to locate in the state.


Mike DeWine (R), Ohio’s attorney general since 2011, was elected as governor with 50.7 percent of the vote. As governor, DeWine is proposing several changes to the state’s overall economic development strategy. DeWine’s strategy is outlined in The Ohio Prosperity Plan, which focuses on eliminating regulations, promoting skills-based training, and encouraging innovation, research, and investment. The plan proposes changing state law to allow research performed at Ohio universities to remain the intellectual property of the researcher, not the institution. It also would establish Opportunity Zones, identify public-private options to expand broadband, and implement several skills training programs. These include regional job-training partnerships to coordinate workforce development across state agencies, promoting the use of certificates, and spearheading occupational licensing reform, particularly for military members and spouses who are licensed in other states.


Former four-term Oklahoma state Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) was defeated in his bid to become governor by political newcomer and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt (R). Stitt handily defeated Edmondson by garnering 54.3 percent of the vote. He billed himself as a conservative outsider with a vision to make Oklahoma a top-10 state. Stitt's five-pillar plan includes reforming the state's education system and expanding economic prosperity. He vows to reduce and streamline the state's agencies and boards, establish agency performance metrics and audit all agencies, and advocates for a line-item budget. In addition, Stitt seek to expand economic prosperity in Oklahoma by capitalizing on President Trump's recent tax cuts and jobs act and pledges to resume the state's business recruitment program.


Incumbent Democratic Gov. Kate Brown won her first full term. She became governor in 2015 after the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhaber and won a special election in 2016 to complete his term. Plagued by negative approval ratings, Brown was able to maintain a slim lead over her opponent, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R) to win, receiving 49.4 percent of the vote to Buehler's 44.5 percent.  During her governorship, Brown made education her top priority with large investments in education, doubled funding for career and technical education (CTE) programs, as well as for science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) programs, and identifying additional priorities and proposed policies that focused on building a skilled and educated workforce. Brown signed the Oregon Promise into law, which reduced community college tuition and expanded Opportunity grants to thousands of Oregon students. In her next term, the governor pledges to launch the Future Ready Oregon program, a skill and job training initiative for students and adults designed to close the skills gap. Other platform priorities include creation of a small business advisory cabinet to advance policies involving mentorship programs, access to capital, and support for entrepreneurs in Oregon's rural and underserved communities. Brown seeks to continue building some of the state's most innovative industries, such as the Oregon cannabis industry, and developing supply chains for emerging technologies, such as cross-laminated timber wood products.


Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) was successful in his bid for reelection with 57.6 percent of the vote.  Gov. Wolf primarily touts his existing record as well as his previous experience as a business owner. On his campaign website, the governor pledges to build upon his record in areas such as streamlining services for small businesses, investing in infrastructure, reducing business taxes, creating 21st Century Jobs, expanding workforce development opportunities, and preparing students for 21st century jobs.

Rhode Island

Current Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) won reelection. During her campaign, Raimondo pointed to her record for increasing wages and supporting Rhode Island businesses and manufacturers. Her campaign site noted that wages have increased, unemployment numbers mirror the nation instead of being some of the highest when she took office, and companies are moving to and expanding in the state, helped by a combination of job training and business incentives. Raimondo led the effort to offer tuition-free access to community college and created new career and technical training programs in and beyond high school.

South Carolina

Incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster (R) was successful in his bid for reelection defeating Democratic challenger state Rep. James Smith with 56 percent of the vote. This is his first electoral win as governor after becoming governor in 2017 when former Gov. Nikki Haley was named U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. During the campaign, McMaster touted his past performance with regard to economic development and had a strategy focused mostly on traditional economic development efforts, cutting taxes and reducing regulation. He also published plans for workforce development and several strategies to improve education across the state. His workforce development plan includes three elements: incentivize businesses to participate with local high schools in apprenticeship programs; increase workforce scholarships and grants at technical colleges for qualifying students; and, expand workforce-training opportunities for inmates who have completed their sentences and are re-entering the community. To support education, McMaster pledges to align the state’s educational system with the technological necessities of the new economy including offering courses in coding and computer science.

South Dakota

Former U.S. Rep. Kristi Noem (R) is the first woman to be elected governor of South Dakota. She defeated state Sen. Billie Sutton (D), who was vying to be the state's first Democratic governor since 1974. In what was an unexpectedly close race, Noem received 51 percent of the vote to Sutton's 47.6 percent. She is vowing to kick-start South Dakota's economy by lifting government burdens from entrepreneurs, making it easier to work and create opportunities to prosper. Noem's proposed Workforce 2025 plan prioritizes education programs that, in her words, would produce jobholders and not degree holders. As governor, she proposes providing career counseling to students regarding high-demand or in-demand jobs beginning in middle school, expanding access to experience-driven technical training in high school, and dramatically increasing shared-learning opportunities among high schools, technical schools, universities and employers to better manage a student's transition from home to college to the workforce. She would seek changes in policies to fast-track apprentices, technical school graduates, and veterans and military families. Noem is also proposing that experience be considered as part of the licensing process. Noem's rural revitalization plan includes broadband expansion, economic development initiatives and focusing on rural communities' K-12 schools.


Republican Bill Lee won the election with 59 percent of the vote. Lee laid out details of his vision for rural Tennessee during his campaign, saying this vision includes investing in vocational and technical education for high school students and reduced regulation and taxes. His statements did not clarify if this “Roadmap for Rural Tennessee” would apply such changes statewide. He also said he supports innovation and technology to improve economic, health and educational opportunities, including reducing the tax burden for small businesses to reward entrepreneurship and investment in rural communities, and developing technology solutions to help rural schools deliver on their educational goals.


Republican Gov. Greg Abbott easily won a second term with 55.9 percent of the vote. When elected in 2014, Abbott had pledged to create jobs and promote opportunity, cut taxes and improve education. Since taking office, Abbott’s campaign said he has added 500,000 new jobs, delivered the state's largest tax relief package in nearly a decade, and slashed the business franchise tax by 25 percent. He also increased state support for emerging research at Texas universities. For a second term, Abbott has a new set of policy proposals entitled "Bicentennial Blueprint: Framing Our Future," which seeks to build upon the successes achieved during his first term. Abbott would continue to grow the economy, increase government transparency, and elevate Texas' education. He is also vowing to amend the constitution to narrow permissible uses of the state's Economic Stabilization Fund to cover revenue shortfalls in biennia, debt retirement, infrastructure, and expenses related to a state of disaster declared by the governor.


Vermont Gov. Phil Scott won reelection with 55 percent of the vote. The Republican governor ran on his record, saying his administration has tackled tough issues, such as getting spending growth under control and strengthening the education system. He cited a $70 million budget surplus, lower spending growth, and preventing $71 million in forecasted statewide property tax rate increases. He also cited $5 million in increased investment in career technical education, workforce training and higher education.


Tony Evers, a Democrat who has served as the Superintendent of Public Instruction of Wisconsin since 2009, narrowly defeated two-term incumbent Scott Walker with 49.6 percent of the vote. Evers is proposing to disband the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, replace the organization, and return the majority of economic development dollars to local communities and regional organizations.  He advocates increased investment in infrastructure, including renewable energy, airports, and broadband, as well as education, and a return to "The Wisconsin Idea," where the R&D at the Wisconsin university system is linked to well-being in the state. For rural areas in particular, Evers seeks to reorient economic development agencies to increase incentives that support agriculture and rural businesses through training, labor attraction, market development and business support.


Former state representative and energy attorney Mary Throne (D) was defeated in her bid to become Wyoming's next governor, by the current state Treasurer Mark Gordon (R). Gordon overwhelmingly defeated Throne (67.4 percent to 27.7 percent). As governor, Gordon will advocate to reduce the size of government, decrease the state's spending, and defend conservative values. To diversify Wyoming's economy, Gordon would shift the state's revenues by tweaking and building on the assets the state already has, particularly within the energy sector, such as placing greater emphasis on processes that add value to minerals. He would work to position the state as a leader in advanced energy technologies, such as carbon capture and storage, enhanced oil recovery and new carbon-to-product markets. Gordon also believes more needs to be done in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship and small business development.

Current Gov. Matt Mead's recent initiative, Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW), was created as a way to develop a long-term strategy for diversifying the state's economy. This past legislative session, state lawmakers allocated funding to create councils dedicated to exploring priorities, recommendations, or plans those councils might identify. The next governor will be in charge of continuing those efforts and possibly expanding upon Mead's initiative; however, Gordon, while optimistic about ENDOW, is not fully committed to it. He has indicated that he would use the ENDOW recommendations as a guide in developing a path forward, but not necessarily the means in which to move the state forward.

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