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
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 73)
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.[2] 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. As of 2019, he is the most recent Democrat to have served as Governor of Indiana.

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.[3]

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.[4]

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. [5]

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.[6] 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, after convincing approximately 50 others to invest in the team. This stopped the Silver Hawks from being purchased and moved out of South Bend to another city. Kernan then agreed to sell the team to Andrew Berlin, of Berlin Packaging, so that he could develop the Silver Hawks further and keep the team in the South Bend area. This ensured the success of the team, now renamed the South Bend Cubs. In July 2007, Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard were appointed by Daniels to co-chair the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform.[7]

In 2008, Kernan and his wife Maggie were Indiana co-chairs of Hillary Clinton's campaign[8] and actively campaigned for Clinton leading up to the state's May primary.[9]

Despite no longer being an active politician himself, Kernan has remained involved in South Bend politics. He lent his endorsement to Pete Buttigieg in the 2011 South Bend mayoral election.[10][11] In 2015, he served as campaign manager and treasurer for Kareemah Fowler's campaign for South Bend City Clerk.[12][13][14] Fowler had a landslide victory in capturing Democratic nomination in a competitive primary, defeating veteran Common Council member Derek Dieter,[14] and was elected clerk in the general election.[15]

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.[16] Kernan is one of nine children, with just one brother and seven sisters. Joe is the eldest.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "List of South Bend Mayors".
  2. ^ "Indiana Governor History: Joseph E. Kernan". Official Website of the State of Indiana. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
  3. ^ "USA Baseball-Irish Classic Debuts Friday".
  4. ^ "Veteran Tributes". Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |website= (help)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform". Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved March 15, 2009.
  8. ^ "Hillary Clinton: Press Release - Former Indiana Governor Joe Kernan and First Lady Maggie Kernan Endorse Clinton". Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Presidential candidates overlook Wayne County". Pal-Item. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  10. ^ McGurk, Nick (April 17, 2011). "Buttigieg raises nearly a quarter of a million dollars in mayor's race". WNDU. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Howey, Brian A. (April 28, 2011). "New faces await Indiana Dems as the guard changes" (PDF). Howey Politics Indiana. 16 (33). Retrieved September 15, 2019.
  12. ^ Blasko, Erin (May 6, 2015). "Kareemah Fowler cruises to victory over Derek Dieter in South Bend clerk race". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved September 20, 2019.
  13. ^ Colwell, Jack (April 23, 2015). "Gov. Kernan managing city clerk campaign" (PDF). Howey Politics Indiana. 20 (31). Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Kusz, Brandon; Peterson, Mark (May 5, 2015). "UPDATE: Buttigieg defeats Davis in mayoral primary; Fowler wins clerk race". WNDU-TV. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  15. ^ Parrott, Jeff (September 5, 2019). "South Bend council gives ex-clerk a contract to train successor. She says she won't bill the city". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved September 17, 2019.
  16. ^

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