Joe E. Kernan

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Joe E. Kernan
Joe Kernan.jpg
48th Governor of Indiana
In office
September 13, 2003 – January 10, 2005
LieutenantKathy Davis
Preceded byFrank O'Bannon
Succeeded byMitch Daniels
47th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
In office
January 13, 1997 – September 13, 2003
Acting Governor: Sept. 10, 2003 – Sept. 13, 2003
GovernorFrank O'Bannon
Preceded byFrank O'Bannon
Succeeded byKathy Davis
30th Mayor of South Bend
In office
January 3, 1988 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byRoger Parent[1]
Succeeded bySteve Luecke
Personal details
Joseph Eugene Kernan

(1946-04-08) April 8, 1946 (age 72)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Maggie Kernan
ResidenceSouth Bend, Indiana
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame
Military service
Branch/serviceUnited States Navy
Years of service1969–1974 (active duty)
1974–1982 (naval reserve)
Battles/warsVietnam War, Cold War

Joseph Eugene Kernan (born April 8, 1946) is an American businessman and former politician who served as the 48th Governor of Indiana from 2003 to 2005. A member of the Democratic Party, Kernan previously served as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and then as the 47th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana from 1997 to 2003. He became governor on September 13, 2003, upon the death of Governor Frank O'Bannon. He lost an election to serve a full term as governor to former Office of Management and Budget director Mitch Daniels on November 2, 2004. Kernan returned to South Bend and retired from politics.

Early life and education[edit]

Joe Kernan was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1946. He graduated from St. Joseph's High School in South Bend, Indiana. He graduated in 1968 with a degree in Government from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a resident of Stanford Hall. Kernan played baseball at Notre Dame in 1967 and 1968.[2]

Military service[edit]

Kernan entered the United States Navy in 1969 and served as a Naval Flight Officer aboard the carrier USS Kitty Hawk. After he completed Naval Flight Officer training, reconnaissance training, & RA-5C Vigilante Replacement Air Group training, he served with RVAH-7 at Naval Air Station Albany, Georgia, until deploying to Southeast Asia aboard the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk from February 1972 until he was shot down by enemy forces while on a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on May 7, 1972. He was held as a prisoner of war for 11 months. Kernan was repatriated in 1973 and continued on active duty with the Navy until December 1974. Kernan received the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Commendation Medal.[3]

After completing his Naval service, Kernan worked for Procter and Gamble in Cincinnati in 1975. He then returned to South Bend, where he worked for both the Schwarz Paper Company and the MacWilliams Corporation. He was South Bend's city controller from 1980 to 1984. [4]

Political career[edit]

Kernan greeting President Ronald Reagan in 1988

Joe Kernan was elected mayor of South Bend in 1987, 1991 and again in 1995, when he won with more than 82% of the vote.[5] In 1996, Kernan was elected as Indiana's Lieutenant Governor, and then re-elected in 2000. As Lieutenant Governor, Kernan served as the President of the Indiana Senate, the Director of the Indiana Department of Commerce, and as the Commissioner of Agriculture.

Originally, Kernan declined to seek the governorship during the 2004 election, but decided to do so upon assuming the governorship after the death of Frank O'Bannon.

He was defeated by Mitch Daniels for a full four-year term in 2004.

Post-political career[edit]

Kernan returned to private life in January 2005 and became president of the South Bend Silver Hawks baseball club. In July 2007, Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard were appointed by Daniels to co-chair the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform.[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1974 he married his wife, Maggie. They have a home in South Bend, where Maggie works as a marketing specialist for 1st Source Bank. A Purdue University graduate who is active in community service, Maggie has been mentoring a child through a South Bend Community Schools program since 1994.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of South Bend Mayors".
  2. ^ "USA Baseball-Irish Classic Debuts Friday".
  3. ^ "Veteran Tributes".
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform". Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved 2009-03-15.
  7. ^

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Frank O'Bannon
Lieutenant Governor of Indiana
January 13, 1997 – September 13, 2003
Succeeded by
Kathy Davis
Preceded by
Frank O'Bannon
Governor of Indiana
September 13, 2003 – January 10, 2005
Succeeded by
Mitch Daniels
Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank O'Bannon
Democratic nominee for Governor of Indiana
Succeeded by
Jill Long Thompson