Willard Mitt Romney (born March 12, 1947) was the was the 45th Governor of Michigan (1991-1999), a role his father, George Romney, once served, and was a venture capitalist during the 1970's and 80's prior to his political career. He was a Nationalist candidate for President in 1996 and 2004.
Early Life and Education
Political Career in Michigan: Lieutenant Governor
Entry into Politics
In early 1988, Romney announced he would run for the position of Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, hoping to capitalize on the popularity of outgoing President Elizabeth Shannon, who like his father was a former Governor of Michigan. With his father's endorsement along with that of the President, Romney ran a highly publicized campaign as a private-sector outsider against state House Minority Leader Rod Phillips, who was considered the favorite of the Nationalist establishment in Michigan up until Romney's surprising entry into the primary. Romney's landslide primary victory over Phillips, along with an unusual endorsement of a President for a primary to determine a lieutenant governor - in Michigan a two-year term - brought speculation that Romney may seek the Governorship in 1990. Capitalizing on his father's and Shannon's endorsements and a nationwide down-ticket effect for Nationalists due to Robert Redford's election, Romney beat Democratic challenger Tim Cooper in "the most watched lieutenant governor race in the country."
After an unremarkable two terms as lieutenant governor, Romney indeed announced that he sought to replace term-limited Democratic Governor Howard "Hal" Graves, whom he had publicly feuded with over the Michigan state budget in early 1990. Despite a nationwide landslide for Democratic candidates, Romney eked out a narrow win against his lacklustre challenger, Cliff Robinson, in November 1990, due largely to entering the race without a primary challenger within his own party and due to various gaffes by the Michigan Democratic Party and the milquetoast campaign of Robinson, who hoped that the strength of the Democratic brand would carry him against the son of a popular former governor and a close political ally of another popular former Governor and favorite daughter President. Despite Robinson's struggles on the campaign trail, the Democrats nearly won an upset victory to keep the Governor's mansion.