Kenny Guinn

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Kenny Guinn
Kenny Guinn.jpg
27th Governor of Nevada
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 1, 2007
Lieutenant Lorraine Hunt
Preceded by Bob Miller
Succeeded by Jim Gibbons
Personal details
Born Kenneth Carroll Guinn
(1936-08-24)August 24, 1936
Garland, Arkansas, U.S.
Died July 22, 2010(2010-07-22) (aged 73)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Resting place Exeter District Cemetery
Exeter, California, U.S.
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Dema Guinn (1956–2010, his death)
Alma mater California State University, Fresno
Utah State University
Profession Businessman, politician and professor
Religion Episcopalian

Kenneth Carroll Guinn, known as Kenny Guinn (August 24, 1936 – July 22, 2010), was an American businessman, politician and professor. He was the 27th Governor of Nevada from 1999 to 2007. He was a Democrat-turned-Republican.

Early life and career[edit]

Guinn was born in Garland in Miller County near Texarkana in southwestern Arkansas, and reared in Exeter, California. He married his wife, Dema, in Reno on July 7, 1956. They had two sons, Jeff and Steve.

Guinn earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education from California State University, Fresno.[1] He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1957. In 1970, Guinn earned an Ed.D. from Utah State University in Logan.

Guinn was the superintendent of the Clark County School District from 1969 to 1978. From 1978 to 1987, he was Vice President of Nevada Savings and Loan. From 1987 to 1988, he was President and Chairman of the Board of PriMerit Bank. From 1988 to 1993, he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Southwest Gas Corporation and from 1993 to 1997 he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of that company. He briefly served as interim President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas from 1994 to 1995.

Political career[edit]

Guinn was first elected Governor in 1998, defeating Democratic nominee Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones, with 52% of the vote. When Guinn ran for re-election in 2002, he received 68% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee state Senator Joe Neal, who received only 22%. In November 2005, Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S.[2]

As Governor of Nevada, Guinn developed a reputation as a moderate Republican who was not motivated by partisan ideology. During his first term as governor, Guinn pushed for the creation of the Millennium Scholarship program to provide all Nevada High School graduates with a scholarship to attend a Nevada university. He also championed a state run prescription drug benefit program for Nevada senior citizens called Senior RX. Guinn, who prided himself on his detailed knowledge of the state budget, believed Nevada's tax structure was inherently flawed with its dependence on growth and tourism—Nevada has no income tax and relies heavily on gaming and sales tax. Guinn proposed a tax restructuring during the 2003 legislative session that was met with opposition from anti-tax business groups and many anti-tax Republicans. After a devisive session that divided the Republicans and ended in a Nevada Supreme Court decision upholding the passage of the bill very little of Guinn's original proposal was enacted. As Guinn had predicted the state was plunged into a serious budget deficit as soon as the 2008 recession hit the gaming and construction industry causing sales and gaming tax revenues to plummet. In percentage terms, Guinn's 2003 tax hike was the largest tax increase ever by one of the 50 states, but it was praised as "a controversial but realistic step to shore up the overstretched budget of the nation's fastest-growing state."[2]

In 2006, Guinn declined to endorse Jim Gibbons, the Republican nominee for Governor of Nevada, due to bitter disagreements between the two politicians. Gibbons was one of the more vocal critics of Guinn's tax plan during the 2003 legislative session. Guinn said only that he hoped a Republican would succeed him as governor. Gibbons defeated the Democratic nominee, Dina Titus. Guinn's second term as Governor ended on January 1, 2007, due to lifetime term limits established by the Nevada Constitution. His official portrait was painted by artist Michele Rushworth and hangs in the state capitol in Carson City, Nevada.

Later life and death[edit]

In May 2007, he was elected to the board of directors for Las Vegas-based MGM Mirage.

Guinn died on July 22, 2010, at the age of 73, of complications from injuries sustained after falling from the roof of his Las Vegas home and possibly following a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas, Nevada.[3] He is interred at the Exeter District Cemetery in Exeter, California.


  1. ^ Kenny Guinn
  2. ^ a b Ripley, Amanda; Tumulty, Karen (November 13, 2005). "America's 5 Best Governors". TIME Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2010. 
  3. ^ Kanigher, Steve (July 22, 2010). "Former Gov. Kenny Guinn dead at 73". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved July 22, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Miller
Governor of Nevada
January 4, 1999 – January 1, 2007
Succeeded by
Jim Gibbons