Josh Goodman is a former staff writer for GOVERNING..E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
When I'm on a long car ride with my wife, I sometimes try to see how many of the nation's governors she can name. Other than that, I'd like to think I'm a decent husband.
If there are three governors I'm confident my wife -- a well-informed person, but not a true political junkie -- wouldn't be able to name as of a few weeks ago, they're Sean Parnell in Alaska, Mark Parkinson in Kansas and Gary Herbert in Utah.
The reason that Parnell, Parkinson and Herbert are among the nation's most anonymous governors is that they weren't elected to the office in which they now serve. (While that's also true of David Paterson in New York, Pat Quinn in Illinois and Jan Brewer in Arizona, they, for better or for worse, have made names for themselves). That means they haven't been in office very long and that we didn't get the benefit of high-profile campaigns to learn more about them.
Parnell, Parkinson and Herbert all replaced political stars: Sarah Palin, Kathleen Sebelius and Jon Huntsman, respectively. Before he became Ambassador to China, Huntsman was something like David Frum before David Frum, criticizing the congressional leadership of his fellow Republicans.
How is Herbert grappling with Huntsman's legacy? That was part of the subtext when I sat down with the governor for an interview a couple weeks ago. Our parent company was kind enough to turn it into a spiffy video:
My wife now knows who Gary Herbert is. She's also skeptical as to whether I have a future as a T.V. newscaster.
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