Bill Clinton loses re-election bid for Arkansas Governor

Later that year, in a close election, Governor Clinton lost the race for a second term to Republican Frank White.

Feeling that he had not accomplished all that he wanted to do, he ran as the Democratic candidate in the next gubernatorial election. Campaigning throughout the state, he assured the voters that he would address their needs, and he was re-elected in November 1982.

After an eventful two-year term as governor, Clinton failed in his reelection bid in 1980, the year his daughter and only child, Chelsea, was born. After apologizing to voters for unpopular decisions he had made as governor (such as highway-improvement projects funded by increases in the state gasoline tax and automobile licensing fees), he regained the governor's office in 1982 and was successively reelected three more times by substantial margins. A pragmatic, centrist Democrat, he imposed mandatory competency testing for teachers and students and encouraged investment in the state by granting tax breaks to industries. He became a prominent member of the Democratic Leadership Council, a group that sought to recast the party's agenda away from its traditional liberalism and move it closer to the centre of American political life.

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.[16]
Further information: Arkansas gubernatorial election, 1980
Clinton blamed his defeat on Ronald Reagan's landslide and on Jimmy Carter being unfit for high office. [28]
Clinton joined friend's Bruce Lindsey's law firm of Wright, Lindsey and Jennings, though he spent most of the next two years working on his re-election campaign. Clinton was again elected governor and kept his job for ten years.

Frank Durward White (June 4, 1933 – May 21, 2003) was only the second Republican governor of the U.S. state of Arkansas since Reconstruction. He served a single two-year term from 1981 to 1983. He is one of only two people to have defeated future President Bill Clinton in an election. The other is former U.S. Representative John Paul Hammerschmidt of Harrison.