1. HEBER MANNING WELLS, R, 1896-1905, the first governor of the 45th state, completed his education at the University of Deseret when it was still a high school, then became Salt Lake City recorder. On Nov. 5, 1895, Wells, running as a Republican, became Utah's first state governor, defeating Democrat John T. Caine. In 1900, he won re-election over the Democratic challenger, James H. Moyle.
During his tenure, Wells signed into law bills requiring election reforms, including the Australian (secret) ballot, and establishing the eight-hour day for underground miners and smelter workers. He spearheaded the first laws regarding irrigation and water rights and the establishment of a branch normal school in southern Utah, now Southern Utah University in Cedar City.He promoted economic development and protected natural resources. Perhaps his most far-reaching decision was to accept 60 acres of Fort Douglas land from the federal government and move the University of Utah from the northwest part of the city to the east bench.
2. JOHN CHRISTOPHER CUTLER, R, 1905-1909, from Sheffield, England, migrated with his family, converts to the LDS Church, to Utah. At age 30, Cutler became the agent for the Provo Woolen Mills, and later served in various directorships in local banks and companies. From 1884 to 1890, he served as Salt Lake County clerk.
In 1904, Republican Cutler defeated Democrat James H. Moyle to win election as governor. In office, he advocated the building of a state capitol and the opening of the Uinta Indian Reservation to white settlement, and provided for the registration of births and deaths by the state. The most important measure approved by Cutler was the establishment of a juvenile court system in Utah's first- and second-class cities.
Cutler failed to consult the powers of the Republican Party too many times in his governmental decisions, and party leaders denied him re-nomination in 1908.
3. WILLIAM SPRY, R, 1909-1917, from Berkshire, England, emigrated to Utah in 1875. At age 13, he dropped out of school in Salt Lake City. Afterward, he worked as a section hand for the railroad, as a blacksmith and in the hide and wool business.
He served as tax collector for Tooele County and as a member of the Utah House of Representatives. Soon, he belonged to Sen. Reed Smoot's "Federal Bunch," a major force in Republican and Utah politics in the early 20th century.
In 1908, Spry was elected governor, defeating Democrat J. William Knight.
Spry's first controversy concerned the Prohibition movement. Smoot feared that statewide prohibition would revive Mormon-gentile conflict and endanger his U.S. Senate seat, so he and the "Federal Bunch," including Spry, favored local option. Spry signed a local option law in 1911, and then vetoed a statewide prohibition bill in 1915.
With Spry's strong backing, the Legislature authorized a $1 million bond issue in 1911, and the Capitol was officially dedicated on Oct. 9, 1916. He was also interested in the development of natural resources and worked for food and drug legislation.
Spry was re-elected in 1912, defeating Democrat John F. Tolton. Spry achieved notoriety during his second term by his refusal to intervene in the plans to execute Joe Hill, labor propagandist for the IWW, who had been convicted of murder by Utah's courts. Hill was executed in 1915 despite appeals from many sources, including President Woodrow Wilson. In 1916, Spry lost the Republican nomination for a third term to Nephi L. Morris over Spry's support for local option on Prohibition.
4. SIMON BAMBERGER, D, 1917-1921, immigrated to the United States and worked in retailing in St. Louis. In 1870, he moved to Utah and became involved in various enterprises, such as hotels, coal and mines, construction of railroads and the Lagoon amusement resort.
Near the turn of the century, Bamberger began a career in public service, including a term on the Salt Lake City Board of Education and a term in the Utah State Senate. In 1916, he ran for governor, trouncing the Republican, Nephi L. Morris. He was the first Democrat, the first non-Mormon and the first Jew ever to hold the state's highest office. He was 71 years old.
A nonsmoker and nondrinker himself, he took an uncompromising stand in favor of Prohibition and closed his own saloon at Lagoon at a financial loss. Facing a state deficit of nearly $500,000, he urged stringent economy, creating a $2 million surplus by the end of his administration. As Utah's wartime governor, he was an active and successful worker in various liberty loan and fund-raising drives.
Although extremely popular with the state's LDS population, Bamberger chose not to seek a second term because of age considerations. When Bamberger died at age 80, he was eulogized in services in Temple B'nai Israel by federal Judge Tillman D. Johnson, Rabbi Samuel Gordon and LDS President Heber J. Grant.
5. CHARLES RENDELL MABEY, R, 1921-1925, graduated from the University of Utah with a teaching certificate and became a schoolteacher and administrator. Mabey served as justice of the peace, city councilor, mayor of Bountiful and as a member of the Utah Legislature.
Mabey was a dark horse who became the Republican nominee for governor in 1920, defeating Democrat T.N. Taylor by a record majority. As Utah's fifth governor, Maybe was especially friendly to the state's public education system. Many schools were built, and standards for teacher certification were improved. He was also aggressive in promoting new highway construction and Utah's entry into the Colorado River Compact.
Mabey was never comfortable in the rough-and-tumble world of politics and consistently resisted attempts by influential people to get him to grant patronage positions. He detested compromise and stood up continually for principle. Depressed economic conditions added to his political problems, and he was soundly defeated for re-election in 1924 by Democrat George Dern at the same time Republicans won every other major race.
6. GEORGE HENRY DERN, D, 1925-1933, from Nebraska, graduated from Fremont Normal College in 1888 and attended the University of Nebraska, 1893-94, before migrating to Utah, where he worked for his father at the Mercur Gold Mining and Milling Co. He soon gained a reputation as an efficient manager and innovator. He developed a vacuum slime filter process and co-invented the Holt-Dern roasting process, a technique for recovering silver from low-grade ores.
In 1914, he was elected to the Utah Senate. Dern used a congenial personality to advantage, managing a convincing victory over his Mormon Republican opponent, the incumbent Gov. Charles R. Mabey in 1924. In spite of a predominantly Republican legislature, Dern secured legislation requiring compulsory certification for all schoolteachers, regulations extending the jurisdiction of the Public Utilities Commission and a new law expanding automobile regulation.
Dern also managed a revision of Utah's tax laws in favor of middle- and lower-income groups. When he secured a better position for Utah in the revised Colorado River Compact, he became recognized as a major regional leader in the West. Meanwhile, he was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term in 1928 over his Republican opponent, William Wattis.
In 1929, Dern was elected chairman of the National Governors Conference, a signal honor for a Utah governor. He remained so respected by 1932, after two terms in office, that he was able to handpick his successor.
After stepping down, Dern became secretary of war under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, becoming the first Utahn to fill a position in a presidential cabinet. When Dern, a 33rd degree Mason and a member of the Congregational Church, died, his funeral was held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square.
7. HENRY HOOPER BLOOD, D, 1933-1941, from Kaysville, attended Brigham Young University. He became manager of the Kaysville Milling Co., then president of three banks, two livestock companies, a sugar company and a land company.
He became Kaysville city recorder in 1893, then served as Davis County treasurer and as chairman of the State Highway Commission. A reluctant candidate for governor, he defeated Republican William Seegmiller, assuming office at the lowest point of the Great Depression.
His chief challenge was to stimulate the state's economy, which he did by reducing state expenditures and increasing the amount of aid coming to Utah from the federal government. During his administration he reduced the state debt from $12 million to $3,655,000. By working with the national administration, he was instrumental in obtaining many CCC and WPA projects for the state.
In 1933, despite his own opposition to alcohol consumption, he supported the majority as Utah became the final state necessary to ratify the 21st Amendment repealing Prohibition. However, he opposed liquor by the drink.
Blood was elected to a second term in 1936 by defeating Republican Ray E. Dillman. In 1938, he became the first governor to occupy the Thomas Kearns Mansion on South Temple.
8. HERBERT BROWN MAW, D, 1941-1949, from Ogden, graduated from the University of Utah with an L.L.B. in 1916, returned for a B.S. degree in 1923, and received an M.A. and a J.D. from Northwestern University in 1926 and 1927.
He combined law with an active teaching career at the University of Utah, where he taught speech and political science and served as dean of men. He was a member of the Utah Senate and became president of that body from 1934 to 1938. He was instrumental in getting a direct primary bill through the Legislature.
When the first direct primary was held in 1940, Maw defeated conservative Democrat Henry D. Moyle to secure the Democratic nomination. He defeated Republican Don B. Colton in the general election. Afterward, he fulfilled his electoral promises to completely reorganize state government to produce more efficiency and economy.
In 1944, Maw defeated Republican J. Bracken Lee by a slim margin. Maw's two terms as governor were characterized by progressive legislation that effected a substantial reduction in utility rates. The practice by mining companies of treating Utah simply as a "minerals colony," from which ores could be extracted to be sent elsewhere for processing, was ended, and regulations were imposed. His desire to enlarge Utah's industrial base while implementing strong local controls was accompanied by a similarly strong states rights position on federal economic and social legislation.
9. J. BRACKEN LEE, R, 1949-1957, from Price, attended Carbon County High School but did not graduate. He worked in the insurance and real estate businesses. His political career began in 1935 with his election as mayor of Price. In 1948, as a Republican, he defeated incumbent Democrat, Herbert B. Maw, and won re-election in 1952 over Democrat Earl J. Glade.
Lee became Utah's most colorful and controversial governor, attaining national stature, especially for his fiscal conservatism and his strong stands against income tax, foreign aid and the United Nations.
Although Utah had no bonded debt when he took office, and boasted a surplus of $9 million, Lee called for additional reserve funds and deep cuts in many state agency budgets. He abolished the state liquor enforcement agency and the Publicity and the Industrial Development departments. He maintained Utah's debt-free status, vetoed many bills and deleted numerous appropriations.
Lee's attitudes toward education was negative, and he consistently recommended cuts in school financing. In October 1955, he announced he would not pay his federal income tax assessment and put it in a trust account in the hope the U.S. Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of income tax. The Internal Revenue Service confiscated his account.
Lee lost a third term intraparty battle that resulted in the election of another Republican, George D. Clyde. Lee's career in Utah politics, however, had only begun. Many admired him for stating his views in a forthright manner and exercising "the courage of his convictions."
10. GEORGE DEWEY CLYDE, R, 1957-1965, from Springville, graduated from Utah State Agricultural College in agricultural engineering, then received a master's degree in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined the Utah State faculty, teaching engineering classes, and in 1936, became dean of the College of Engineering. He wrote extensively, publishing nearly 50 articles in various engineering journals.
Clyde was elected governor as a Republican in 1956, defeating Democrat L.C. Romney and Independent J. Bracken Lee, and he won re-election to a second term in 1960, defeating Democrat William Barlocker.
Clyde reorganized several departments of state government, replacing commission-type administrations with professional directors. He also increased state funding for schools and highway construction. He planned a state building program, initiated a state library and a state parks system, and he used his expertise to protect Utah's right to Colorado River water. He was an unfailing advocate of the Central Utah Project.
11. CALVIN LEWELLYN RAMPTON, D, 1965-1977, from Bountiful, received both an L.L.B. and a B.S. degree from the University of Utah. He was Davis County attorney and assistant attorney general for Utah. An expert in transportation and tax law, he argued many cases before the Interstate Commerce Commission and other federal regulatory agencies.
As the Democratic candidate for governor in 1964, he defeated Republican Mitchell Melich. In 1968, he won a second term over Republican Carl W. Buehner, and in 1972, he became the first Utah governor to be elected to a third term, defeating Nicholas Strike.
Rampton created the Industrial Promotion Council and the Utah Travel Council, and was instrumental in creating several thousand new jobs. He eliminated a $3 million deficit in the Uniform School Fund and effected a similar reduction in the state's General Fund.
Other major accomplishments included passage of civil rights legislation and strenuous enforcement of the Fair Employment Practice Act and Public Accommodations Act, establishment of the Utah Police Training Academy and the creation of a statewide Governor's Conference on the Arts.
Rampton obtained a national reputation as chairman of the National Governors Conference and chairman of the Western Governors Conference. He was particularly successful in working with legislators in a bipartisan way to solve difficult problems. As a fiscal conservative but social liberal, Rampton was a rarity in Utah politics.
12. SCOTT MILNE MATHESON, D, 1977-1985, from Chicago, graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in political science, then received a J.D. degree from Stanford University. He practiced law in Cedar City and taught part time at the College of Southern Utah. He served as Iron County deputy attorney Parowan city attorney and deputy Salt Lake County attorney. From 1958 to 1976, he was an attorney for the Union Pacific Railroad and Anaconda Copper Corp.
In 1976, Matheson, the Democratic nominee, defeated Republican Vernon Romney to win the governorship, and in 1980, he defeated Republican Robert Wright to win re-election.
During his tenure, he secured passage of drought-relief assistance and bonding for water projects, bonding for various state building needs, and tax relief. Later, when revenues fell short of projections, he trimmed the state payroll and required across-the-board cuts in agency budgets.
Matheson had major disagreements with federal officials over the location of the MX missile system and the transfer of Weteye nerve gas bombs from Colorado to Utah. Due in large measure to his efforts, MX basing for Utah was rejected, and although nerve gas bombs were transferred to Army facilities in Tooele, the military devised much tighter security and safety precautions than had originally been planned.
Later, Matheson opposed proposed nuclear waste dump sites in southeastern Utah, calling them inherently unsuitable because of their proximity to Canyonlands, the Colorado River and archaeological sites. He worked tirelessly throughout his tenure for conservation of natural resources.
13. NORMAN HOWARD BANGERTER, R, 1985-1993, from Granger, Utah, majored in history at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah, before beginning a career as a contractor. For 25 years, he was a successful homebuilder and real estate developer. He entered politics in 1974, when he won a seat in the Utah House of Representatives. He rose through the ranks as assistant majority whip, majority leader and speaker of the House. He was the first speaker to serve two consecutive terms in more than 40 years.
In 1984, Bangerter was elected governor as a Republican, defeating Democratic Congressman Wayne Owens. In 1988, he was re-elected to a second term by defeating Salt Lake Mayor Ted Wilson, a Democrat, and independent Merrill Cook. As governor, Bangerter's three E's were education, economic development and efficiency in government. In 1990, he added a 4th E - environment.
Shortly after he assumed office, several Utah companies closed, and Bangerter launched an aggressive campaign to rebuild the state's economy. During a wet cycle, he made a tough decision to go ahead with a costly project to pump water from the Great Salt Lake into the Great Salt Lake Desert. Bangerter organized Centers of Excellence to help commercialize university research, a Federal Procurement Office to help Utah's small business compete for federal contracts, and promotional efforts to attract additional American and foreign tourists. His recruitment resulted in several new industries locating in Utah.
14. MICHAEL OKERLUND LEAVITT, R, 1993- , from Cedar City, earned a bachelor's degree in business and economics from Southern Utah University. He joined the organization started by his father, the Leavitt Group, a regional insurance firm, eventually becoming its president and chief executive officer. He was also appointed to the boards of directors of Pacificorp, Utah Power & Light Co. and Great Western Thrift and Loan, and served as chairman of the state Board of Regents.
His political career began when he helped his father, a Republican state senator, on his unsuccessful campaign for governor in 1976. Later, he worked on Jake Garn's and Orrin Hatch's U.S. Senate campaigns. In 1992, he ran for governor on a platform of meeting Utah's educational challenges and creating new jobs with higher salaries for more Utah workers. In the general election, he defeated Democrat Stewart Hanson and Independent Merrill Cook.
In his first term, Leavitt has been enormously popular among voters and has been active on a national stage as well, promoting a program to restore balance between the federal government and the states. He also has been chairman of the Republican Governors Association and chairman of the Western Governors Association. He has been a strong advocate of the development of technology. A thriving economy has made it possible for Leavitt to cut taxes in both 1994 and 1995.