Bill Clinton Governor of Arkansas
Clinton was elected Governor of Arkansas in 1978, making him the youngest governor in the country at age thirty-two.
He worked on educational reform and Arkansas's roads, with wife Hillary leading a successful committee on urban health care reform. However, his term included an unpopular motor vehicle tax and citizens' anger over the escape of Cuban refugees (from the Mariel boatlift) detained in Fort Chaffee in 1980. Monroe Schwarzlose of Kingsland in Cleveland County, polled 31% of the vote against Clinton in the Democratic gubernatorial primary of 1980. Some suggested Schwarzlose's unexpected voter turnout foreshadowed Clinton's defeat in the general election that year by Republican challenger Frank D. White. As Clinton once joked, he was the youngest ex-governor in the nation's history.
Clinton's first political campaign, for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1974, was unsuccessful. The close race brought Clinton statewide attention, however, and two years later he was elected attorney general of Arkansas. In 1978 he won the governorship. At age 32, he was the youngest person to be elected governor of any state since 1938.
In 1976, Bill Clinton was elected Attorney General of Arkansas. Two years later, at the age of thirty-two, he became the youngest governor in the United States. As governor of Arkansas, he concentrated on improving the state's educational system and building better roads. On February 27, 1980, the Clintons' daughter, Chelsea Victoria, was born. The Clintons describe this day as the happiest one of their lives.