|41st Governor of Iowa|
January 12, 2007 - January 14, 2011
|29th Secretary of State of Iowa|
January 15, 1999 - January 12, 2007
Chester John Culver
January 25, 1966
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Education||Virginia Tech (BA)|
Drake University (MA)
Chester John "Chet" Culver (born January 25, 1966) is an American politician who served as the 41st Governor of Iowa from 2007 to 2011. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 29th Secretary of State of Iowa from 1999 to 2007. He was also elected as the Federal Liaison for the Democratic Governors Association from 2008 to 2009. He founded the Chet Culver Group, an energy sector consulting firm, after he left public office in 2011.
Culver was born in Washington, D.C. He is the son of Ann (née Cooper) and John Culver, a former U.S. Senator from Iowa. Culver attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland before attending Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science in 1988. Later, he received a Master of Arts degree in Education from Drake University in 1994.
After college, Culver moved to Iowa and worked as a staff member for the state Democratic Party. He worked with Bonnie Campbell on her 1990 campaign for state attorney general, serving as field director. Culver previously worked as a lobbyist under the guidance of Campbell's husband. From 1991 to 1995, Culver worked as a consumer and environmental advocate in the attorney general's office. After completing his master's degree, he took a job as a teacher in Des Moines. Working first at Roosevelt High School and then Hoover High School, he taught government and history. Culver coached sophomore football and eighth grade boys basketball during his tenure.
In 1998, Culver ran for Secretary of State of Iowa and won. At the age of 32, he was the youngest Secretary of State in the United States at the time. He was reelected to a second term in 2002 by a large margin. While serving at this post, he created the Iowa Student Political Awareness Club, which attempts to get students motivated to participate in politics when they reach voting age. During his tenure, Culver received accolades for modernizing the office, increasing voter registration, and ensuring voter accessibility for people with disabilities.
In 2005, Culver announced his candidacy for Governor of Iowa. Culver's main opponents for the Democratic nomination were former director of the Iowa Department of Economic Development Mike Blouin and seven-term State Representative Ed Fallon. Secretary of Agriculture Patty Judge was also running for the nomination, but after she withdrew from the race, she gave her support to Culver and became his running mate. Culver won the Democratic primary with 39% of the vote.
Culver's 2006 election as Governor of Iowa marked the first time that Democrats simultaneously controlled both the executive and legislative branches of the Government of Iowa since the 1965-1967 session of the Iowa General Assembly. Culver is also the first Democratic Governor of Iowa since Nelson G. Kraschel in 1937 to be elected to succeed another Democrat.
Culver ran unsuccessfully for reelection with incumbent Lieutenant Governor Patty Judge. He was challenged by Republican four-term former governor Terry Branstad, who was running with State Senator Kim Reynolds.
One of Culver's first initiatives was to sign legislation easing limits on types of stem cell research in Iowa. "The new legislation allows medical researchers to create embryonic stem cells through cloning. While allowing for further research, it prohibits reproductive cloning of humans." according to National Public Radio. Culver said lifting the ban will "give hope to those suffering from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's."
A September 2008 poll of Iowans found 60% supported Culver's handling of the major floods that struck Iowa and much of the Midwest. A year later, Culver and other state elected officials expressed "outrage" at the slow pace of disbursement of federal funding to affected areas.
Culver touted Iowa as the leading alternative "energy capital of the world". He started a "power fund" to assist with that effort. The Associated Press wrote that "Gov. Chet Culver has bet much of his political future on alternative energy. The power fund was a centerpiece of his campaign for governor, and he managed to push the program through the Legislature. Lawmakers have allocated $49.6 million for the effort over the last two years."
|Democratic||Chet Culver (incumbent)||481,590||43.16||-10.8|
|Iowa Party||Jonathan Narcisse||20,747||1.28||n/a|
|Socialist Workers||David Rosenfeld||2,730||0.24||+.04|
|Republican gain from Democratic||Swing|
|Socialist Workers||Mary Martin||1,957||0.2||n/a|
Culver is a Presbyterian and has served as an elder. His wife Mariclare is a Roman Catholic. In contrast to his wife who supported John Edwards, on February 7, 2008 in Omaha, Nebraska, he endorsed Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee in the 2008 presidential election.