Chet Culver

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Chet Culver
Chet Culver speaking.jpg
41st Governor of Iowa
In office
January 12, 2007 – January 14, 2011
Lieutenant Patty Judge
Preceded by Tom Vilsack
Succeeded by Terry Branstad
29th Secretary of State of Iowa
In office
January 15, 1999 – January 12, 2007
Governor Tom Vilsack
Preceded by Paul Pate
Succeeded by Michael Mauro
Personal details
Born Chester John Culver
(1966-01-25) January 25, 1966 (age 50)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mariclare Culver
Alma mater Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Drake University
Religion Presbyterian

Chester John "Chet" Culver (born January 25, 1966) was the 41st Governor of Iowa, holding the position from 2007 to 2011. He was also elected as the Federal Liaison for the Democratic Governors Association for 2008-2009. He founded the Chet Culver Group, an energy sector consulting firm, in 2011.[1]

Early life and education[edit]

Culver was born in Washington, D.C. He is the son of Ann (Cooper) and John Culver, a former U.S. Senator from Iowa.[2] Culver attended Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Bethesda, Maryland before attending Virginia Tech on a football scholarship. He earned a B.A. degree in political science in 1988. Later, he received a M.A. degree in Education from Drake University in 1994.[3]

Political career[edit]

Culver speaks during the second day of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

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.[4]

In 1998, Culver ran for Iowa Secretary of State 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.[5] During his tenure, Culver received accolades for modernizing the office, increasing voter registration, and ensuring voter accessibility for people with disabilities.

Culver's 2006 election as Governor marked the first time that Democrats simultaneously controlled both the executive and legislative branches of Iowa's state government since the 1965–1967 session of the Iowa General Assembly. Culver is also the first Democratic governor in Iowa since Nelson G. Kraschel in 1937 to be elected to succeed another Democrat.

Issue positions[edit]

Stem cell research[edit]

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.[6] Culver said lifting the ban will "give hope to those suffering from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's."

Culver proposed spending $12.5 million to establish a stem cell research center at the University of Iowa.[7] NPR called it a "Key Moment in the Stem Cell Debate."[6]

2008 Floods[edit]

A September 2008 poll of Iowans found 60% supporting Culver's handling of the major floods that struck Iowa and much of the Midwest.[8] A year later, Culver and other state elected officials expressed "outrage" at the slow pace of disbursement of federal funding to affected areas.[9][10]

In 2010, Culver proposed a $40 million "disaster relief fund"[11] and declared March 2010 "Flood Awareness Month."[12]

Alternative energy[edit]

Culver touts Iowa as the leading alternative "energy capital of the world".[13] 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."[14]

Campaign history[edit]

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 faced Republican Congressman Jim Nussle of Manchester, who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in the general election. On November 7, 2006, Culver defeated Nussle in the general election, winning 54% of the vote to Nussle's 44.6%, with minor party candidates getting 1.4%.

Culver ran unsuccessfully for re-election 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.[15]

Electoral history[edit]

Chester Culver Oath Of Office
Iowa Gubernatorial Election, 2010
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Terry Branstad 589,828 52.86 +8.2
Democratic Chet Culver (incumbent) 481,590 43.16 -10.8
Iowa Party Jonathan Narcisse 20,747 1.28 n/a
Libertarian Eric Cooper 14,293 1.28 +0.7
Socialist Workers David Rosenfeld 2,730 0.24 +.04
Petition James Hughes 3,846 0.34 n/a
Write-in n/a 2,717 0.24 n/a
Majority 108,238
Turnout 1,047,714
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
Iowa Gubernatorial Election 2006
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Chet Culver 565,657 54.0 +1.7
Republican Jim Nussle 466,757 44.6 +0.1
Green Wendy Barth 7,722 0.7 -0.7
Libertarian Kevin Litten 5,621 0.5 -0.8
Socialist Workers Mary Martin 1,957 0.2 n/a
Majority 98,900 9.4
Turnout 1,052,005
Democratic hold Swing

Personal life[edit]

He is a Presbyterian and has served as an elder. He is married to Mariclare Culver, who is 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.[16]


  1. ^ Chet Culver Group (2011). Home page. Retrieved May 16, 2011.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Governor Chester J. 'Chet' Culver (IA). Project Vote Smart.
  4. ^ Harder, Amy. "Access Denied". Retrieved 2013-09-17. [dead link]
  5. ^ Office of Governor Chet Culver. Archived June 26, 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ a b "Key Moments in the Stem-Cell Debate". NPR. Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. 
  7. ^ January 25, 2007 (Jan 25, 2007). "Culver Calls For Bill Lifting Embryonic Stem Cell Research Ban - Omaha News Story - KETV Omaha". Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Iowa Poll: Do flood prevention work now, 63% say |". The Des Moines Register. September 21, 2008. Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ "Chet Culver (D) - Washington Post". July 9, 2010. Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. [dead link]
  10. ^ Petroski, William. "anger floods". Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  11. ^ "Iowa floods 2010". Des Moines Register. Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Flood Awareness Month ~ Rebuild Iowa Office". Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. [dead link]
  13. ^ Todd Dorman (Jan 13, 2007). "Culver makes big energy push". Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. 
  14. ^ Glover, Mike (May 24, 2009). "TH - Iowa-Illinois-Wisconsin Article". Retrieved Jul 14, 2010. [dead link]
  15. ^ Boshart, Rod (November 3, 2010). "Terry Branstad 'ready to lead the charge' as Iowa's governor". The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. Retrieved November 3, 2010. 
  16. ^ "Iowa Gov. Culver Says he Will Endorse Obama". Time Magazine. February 7, 2008. Retrieved Oct 25, 2008. [dead link]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Paul Pate
Secretary of State of Iowa
Succeeded by
Michael Mauro
Preceded by
Tom Vilsack
Governor of Iowa
Succeeded by
Terry Branstad
Party political offices
Preceded by
Tom Vilsack
Democratic nominee for Governor of Iowa
2006, 2010
Succeeded by
Jack Hatch