Ohio governors: Which ones hailed from our region?

Chris Stewart, Journal-News, Hamilton, Ohio
·6 min read

Apr. 20—Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced on Monday her second run to be Ohio's governor. If Whaley were to get the Democratic nomination and win election in 2022, she would join nine other governors who grew up in or started their political careers in the region.

Thomas Corwin (1794-1865)

15th governor of Ohio, Dec. 16, 1840-Dec. 14, 1842

Party: Whig

Hometown: Lebanon

Corwin was born in Kentucky but moved with his parents to Lebanon in 1798 where he later practiced law and became Warren County's prosecuting attorney in 1818. He served in the Ohio House of Representatives and while serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, resigned that position to run for governor. Having beaten Wilson Shannon for the governor's seat, he lost a rematch in 1842. Corwin later was elected U.S. senator and served as President Zachary Taylor's treasury secretary. He was again elected to the U.S. House in 1858 as a Republican.

William Bebb (1802-1873)

19th governor of Ohio, Dec. 12, 1846-Jan. 22, 1849

Party: Whig

Hometown: Paddy's Run (now Shandon)

Bebb was born in Hamilton County, Northwest Territory in what is now part of Butler County. In 1828 along with his wife, Bebb founded the Sycamore Grove School for Boys on his father's farm. Bebb closed the school after he was admitted to the bar and began practicing law in Hamilton. He was nominated by Ohio Whigs to run for governor in 1846 and beat Democrat David Tod.

Charles Anderson (1814-1895)

27th governor of Ohio, Aug. 29, 1865-Jan. 8, 1866

Party: Republican

Hometown: Dayton

Elected as Ohio's lieutenant governor, Anderson served only briefly as governor when Gov. John Brough died in office. Upon graduation from Miami University and studying law, Anderson moved to Dayton where he worked as an attorney and county prosecutor. Before becoming the state's lieutenant governor, he served in the Ohio Senate representing Montgomery and Warren counties.

James E. Campbell (1843-1924)

38th governor of Ohio, Jan. 13, 1890-Jan. 11, 1892

Party: Democratic

Hometown: Middletown

Campbell was born and raised in Middletown and the first Ohio governor whose parents were both born in the state. After serving in the Civil War began practicing law in Hamilton and became Butler County prosecutor. Campbell lost two subsequent gubernatorial elections but was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving terms from 1884-1889.

Asa S. Bushnell (1834-1904)

40th governor of Ohio, Jan. 13, 1896-Jan. 8, 1900

Party: Republican

Hometown: Springfield

Bushnell moved to Springfield at age 17 and became a clerk in a dry goods store. Later he became a partner in his father-in-law's drug store. He served in the 152nd Ohio Infantry during the Civil War and after the war was a partner then president of one of the agricultural implement companies that would form International Harvester. He was also president of the First National Bank of Springfield and the Springfield Gas Company. He served two, two-year terms as governor.

Andrew L. Harris (1835-1915)

44th governor of Ohio, June 18, 1906-Jan. 11, 1909

Party: Republican

Hometown: Eaton

Called a hero of the Civil War's Battle of Gettysburg, Harris was born in Butler County and practiced law in Preble County. Harris enlisted as a private and was in 18 battles and twice wounded, leaving his right arm disabled. Harris was elected in 1866 to represent Preble and Montgomery counties in Ohio's State Senate. In 1875, he was elected to the first of two terms as probate judge of Preble County. He served as Ohio's Lieutenant governor twice, including for William McKinley and then for Democrat John Pattison, who died in office making Harris governor. Harris ran for governor unsuccessfully in 1908 and returned to his farm in Preble County.

James M. Cox (1870-1957)

46th and 48th governor of Ohio, Jan. 13, 1913-Jan. 12, 1915; Jan. 8, 1917-Jan. 10, 1921

Party: Democratic

Hometown: Dayton

Cox was born on a Butler County farm and raised in Middletown. After working at newspapers working in Washington, D.C., Cox acquired the Dayton Evening News and renamed it the Dayton Daily News. He also purchased a newspaper in Springfield before running successfully for U.S. House of Representatives. He resigned from the U.S. House seat after winning the governor's seat in 1912. He lost reelection in 1914 but ran again winning in 1916 and 1918. In 1920 he was the Democratic candidate for president, losing to a fellow Ohio newspaper publisher, Warren G. Harding. After Cox's third term as governor ended in 1921, he continued building his media company, adding more newspapers as well as broadcast properties.

James A. Rhodes (1909-2001)

61st and 63rd governor of Ohio, Jan. 14, 1963-Jan. 11, 1971, Jan. 13, 1975-Jan. 10, 1983

Party: Republican

Hometown: Springfield

When Rhodes was 9, his father died in a mining accident and the family moved to Springfield. The future governor would attend school in Springfield and graduate from Springfield High School. Rhodes moved to Columbus after high school but dropped out of Ohio State University to work and start a business to help his family make ends meet. Rhodes won elections to the Columbus school board and city auditor and mayor. He then became Ohio's auditor. In 1954 he ran unsuccessfully as governor but tried about in 1962 and won the first of his four terms. During his second term, four Kent State students were killed by National Guard troops Rhodes ordered to the campus in 1970. Rhodes lost a U.S. Senate primary two days after the shootings. He won two more consecutive terms for governor again in 1974 and 1978.

Mike DeWine (born 1947)

70th governor of Ohio, Jan. 14, 2019 — present

Party: Republican

Hometown: Cedarville

DeWine, Ohio's current governor, was born in Springfield and raised in Yellow Springs. After graduating from Miami University and the Ohio Northern University College of Law, DeWine began working in the Greene County Prosecutor's Office and was elected county prosecutor in 1976. He won election to the Ohio Senate and in 1982 was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving Ohio's 7th District until 1991. He served as lieutenant governor for George Voinovich and was a U.S. Senator from 1995-2007. After briefly teaching at Cedarville University and Miami University, DeWine ran for Ohio attorney general in 2010 and won, defeating Democrat Richard Cordray, who DeWine also defeated in 2018 to become governor.

Source: Ohio History Connection