Ruth Ann Minner

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Ruth Ann Minner
72nd Governor of Delaware
In office
January 3, 2001 – January 20, 2009
LieutenantJohn Carney
Preceded byTom Carper
Succeeded byJack Markell
23rd Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
In office
January 19, 1993 – January 3, 2001
GovernorTom Carper
Preceded byDale E. Wolf
Succeeded byJohn Carney
Member of the Delaware Senate
from the 18th district
In office
January 4, 1983 – January 5, 1993
Preceded byWilliam M. Murphy, Jr.
Succeeded byRobert J. Voshell
Member of the Delaware House of Representatives
from the 33rd district
In office
January 7, 1975 – January 4, 1983
Preceded byGeorge A. Robbins
Succeeded byHarry K. F. Terry
Personal details
Ruth Ann Coverdale

(1935-01-17)January 17, 1935
Milford, Delaware, U.S.
DiedNovember 4, 2021(2021-11-04) (aged 86)
Milford, Delaware, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Frank R. Ingram
(died 1967)
Roger Minner
(m. 1969; died 1991)
EducationDelaware Technical Community College

Ruth Ann Minner (née Coverdale; January 17, 1935 – November 4, 2021) was an American politician and businesswoman who served as the 72nd governor of Delaware from 2001 to 2009. She previously served in the Delaware General Assembly from 1975 to 1993, and as the 23rd lieutenant governor of Delaware from 1993 to 2001. A member of the Democratic Party, she was the first and only female governor of Delaware. She was originally from Milford, in Kent County, Delaware.

Early life and education[edit]

Ruth Ann Coverdale was born on January 17, 1935, in Milford, Delaware.[1][2] While growing up, she left high school at age 16 to help support her family. Subsequently, she married Frank Ingram with whom she had three children: Frank Jr., Wayne, and Gary. When she was 32 her husband died suddenly of a heart attack in 1967, leaving her a single mother with three children.[3] She earned her GED in 1968 and later attended Delaware Technical and Community College, while working two jobs to support the family. In 1969 she married Roger Minner and they operated a family towing business, the Roger Minner Wrecker Service. Roger Minner died of lung cancer in 1991.

Professional and political career[edit]

Minner began her political career as a clerk in the Delaware House of Representatives and as a receptionist in the office of Governor Sherman W. Tribbitt. In 1974 she was elected to the State House as a member of the "Watergate Class," a group of newly elected legislators from both parties, who came into office on a "good government" mission and a strong sense of their ability to make significant improvements. Minner rose to become Delaware's most powerful female politician, but she did it in a very conventional way, representing a rural, small town constituency, and building relationships and expertise by working in the legislative process over many years. She served four terms in the State House, from the 1975/1976 session through the 1981/1982 session.

At various times she served as House Majority Whip and chair of the powerful Bond Bill Committee. She also chaired the Rules Committee. In that role she led several successful reforming efforts, including a change that removed the rule allowing Representatives to table roll call votes. This rule was used to help schedule votes when only the right combinations of Representatives were on the floor.[4]

In 1982 Minner was elected to the Delaware Senate and served there from the 1983/1984 session through the 1991/1992 session. While in the State Senate Minner sponsored the Delaware Land and Water Conservation Act, a key piece of legislation that protected 30,000 acres (120 km2) of land and created the Delaware Open Space Council. To fund the activities of this Council the General Assembly created the "Twenty-First Century Fund" from the proceeds of a multimillion-dollar corporate securities lawsuit.[citation needed] Elected Lieutenant Governor in 1992, she served two terms from January 19, 1993, to January 3, 2001. While in that position she chaired the Minner Commission on Government Reorganization and Effectiveness.

Governor of Delaware[edit]

Seal of Ruth Ann Minner as Governor of Delaware

Minner was elected Governor of Delaware on November 7, 2000.[5] She had secured the Democratic nomination after her long years in the General Assembly, as Lieutenant Governor and her demonstrated ability to run a campaign by her large statewide victory margins in 1992 and 1996. Her opponent in 2000 was Republican John M. Burris, who had barely survived a bitter September primary contest with retired judge William Swain Lee. Minner won easily. As the incumbent lieutenant governor, Minner took office upon the resignation of Governor Tom Carper on January 3, 2001, after he was elected to a seat in the U.S. Senate; those extra two weeks of tenure, along with her full two terms as governor make her the longest serving governor in Delaware history.[6] Upon completing the unexpired term, Minner began her first full term on January 16, 2001,[citation needed] and was elected to a second term in 2004.[7] She served as the first female president of the Council of State Governments in 2005.

Minner in 2007

Minner was Delaware's fourth consecutive two-term governor and largely continued the business-oriented policies and bipartisan, consensus style begun by her Republican predecessor, Pierre S. du Pont IV. She was usually described as a "middle-of-the-road politician, with conservative fiscal views but progressive social policies." As governor, she worked to decrease cancer rates in Delaware, saying she "was determined to reduce Delaware's high cancer rates. A task force ... has created a road map of specific steps necessary ... and I am implementing that plan. [One] result has been ... the Clean Indoor Air Act, which has reduced cancerous pollutants in Delaware's restaurants, bars and casinos by more than 90 percent."[8][9]

Regarding education, she said, "While it might be popular, it is not demanding to set standards that all students can meet right away ... Once high standards have been set, the key is to give our students, educators and parents the tools to continuously improve." She supported "giving local schools control of [most] new education dollars ... expanding after-school and weekend class programs ... and supports reading and math specialists." She opposed vouchers.[10] "In 2005, she signed legislation creating the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) Scholarship program, which enables students who keep their grades up and stay out of trouble to go to college for free in the state of Delaware. She also expanded her education specialist program, which has placed reading specialists in every elementary school, to also include a plan to place math specialists in every Delaware middle school."[11]

Minner with then-U.S. Senator Joe Biden and then-governors Janet Napolitano, Christine Gregoire and Kathleen Sebelius at the 2008 Democratic National Convention

On other issues she was "a firm supporter of a measure that would simply add sexual orientation to the list of characteristics in the Delaware code ... that are not allowed to be used as basis for discrimination." She opposed "new gun control legislation," but supported "legislation requiring mandatory trigger locks and gun safety courses in schools." And she said "I do not support additional sites or kinds of gambling ... the state should not become any more reliant on this form of revenue."

In her second inaugural address in January 2005, Minner concluded with this description of her philosophy: "for Ruth Ann Minner, farmer, gardener and daughter of a sharecropper, it is simply this: Work hard. Do the right thing. And leave things better than you found them."[12]

Before she left office on January 20, 2009, longtime senator Joe Biden had resigned January 15, 2009, after winning a seventh term, to become Vice President. Minner appointed Biden’s former chief of staff, Ted Kaufman to Biden’s Senate seat.[citation needed]

Delaware General Assembly
(sessions while Governor)
Year Assembly Senate Majority President
pro tempore
House Majority Speaker
2001–2002 141st Democratic Thomas B. Sharp Republican Terry R. Spence
2003–2004 142nd Democratic Thurman Adams Republican Terry R. Spence
2005–2006 143rd Democratic Thurman Adams Republican Terry R. Spence
2007–2008 144th Democratic Thurman Adams Republican Terry R. Spence


Minner died under hospice care in Milford on November 4, 2021, at age 86, after complications from a fall. She died about 6 months after former governor Pete du Pont died on May 18, 2021, of multiple long illnesses.[13][1]

Election results[edit]

Delaware General Assembly service
Dates Assembly Chamber Majority Governor Committees District
1975–1976 128th State House Democratic Sherman W. Tribbitt 33rd
1977–1978 129th State House Democratic Pierre S. du Pont IV 33rd
1979–1980 130th State House Republican Pierre S. du Pont IV 33rd
1981–1982 131st State House Republican Pierre S. du Pont IV 33rd
1983–1984 132nd State Senate Democratic Pierre S. du Pont IV 18th
1985–1986 133rd State Senate Democratic Michael N. Castle 18th
1987–1988 134th State Senate Democratic Michael N. Castle 18th
1989–1990 135th State Senate Democratic Michael N. Castle 18th
1991–1992 136th State Senate Democratic Michael N. Castle 18th

Election results
Year Office Election Subject Party Votes % Opponent Party Votes %
1992 Lt. Governor General Ruth Ann Minner Democratic 165,356 61% Philip D. Cloutier Republican 102,670 38%
1996 Lt. Governor General Ruth Ann Minner Democratic 186,567 70% Sherman N. Miller Republican 73,870 28%
2000 Governor General Ruth Ann Minner Democratic 191,484 60% John M. Burris Republican 128,436 40%
2004 Governor General Ruth Ann Minner Democratic 185,687 51% William Swain Lee Republican 167,115 46%

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Seelye, Katharine Q. (November 10, 2021). "Ruth Ann Minner, Down-to-Earth Governor of Delaware, Dies at 86". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved November 10, 2021.
  2. ^ Stern, Kate (2001). "Minner, Ruth Ann". In Thompson, Clifford (ed.). Current Biography. H. W. Wilson Company. pp. 360–361. ISBN 0-8242-1016-6. ISSN 0084-9499.
  3. ^ Chase, Randall (November 5, 2020). "Former Delaware governor Ruth Ann Minner dead at 86". AP News. Retrieved November 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Cedar Tree Books, Wilmington, Delaware. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  5. ^ Martin, Mart (2001). The Almanac of Women and Minorities in American Politics 2002. Westview Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-8133-9817-7. OCLC 46785367.
  6. ^ "Writer weaves Delaware's story through its governors". December 13, 2015. Retrieved May 23, 2023.
  7. ^ Carroll, Susan J.; Fox, Richard Logan, eds. (2006). Gender and Elections: Shaping the Future of American Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 209. doi:10.1017/9781108277792. ISBN 0-511-14060-6. OCLC 67546727.
  8. ^ "Voters Guide 2004". Sunday News Journal. October 24, 2004. p. 5.
  9. ^ "USA Today Candidate Profile".
  10. ^ "Voters Guide 2000". Sunday News Journal. October 29, 2000. p. 5.
  11. ^ "State of Delaware - Governor Jack Markell - Biography". Retrieved May 13, 2015.
  12. ^ [dead link]
  13. ^ "Ruth Ann Minner, former Delaware governor". Cape Gazette. Retrieved November 6, 2021.


  • Boyer, William W. (2000). Governing Delaware. Newark, Delaware: University of Delaware Press. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • Hoffecker, Carol E. (2004). Democracy in Delaware. Wilmington, Delaware: Cedar Tree Books. ISBN 1-892142-23-6.
  • "Voters Guide 2000". Sunday News Journal. October 29, 2000. p. 5.
  • "Voters Guide 2004". Sunday News Journal. October 24, 2004. p. 5.

External links[edit]

Delaware House of Representatives
Preceded by
George A. Robbins
Member of the Delaware House of Representatives
from the 33rd district

Succeeded by
Harry K. F. Terry
Delaware Senate
Preceded by
William M. Murphy, Jr.
Member of the Delaware Senate
from the 18th district

Succeeded by
Robert J. Voshell
Political offices
Preceded by Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Preceded by Governor of Delaware
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for Governor of Delaware
2000, 2004
Succeeded by