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Davis Journal

The surprising tie between Davis County and the governor’s office

Mar 21, 2024 12:57PM ● By Braden Nelsen

DAVIS COUNTY—It’s true, the state capital may not be in Davis County, but, history has shown that when it comes to producing leaders, Davis is the frontrunner. Whether they were born here, lived here, or made improvements here, Davis County is the spot for those in the Capitol, and the Governor’s mansion, and with three Davis locals, there are more Utah governors from Davis than any other county in the state.

The first governor with strong Davis ties was none other than Simon Bamberger, of the Bamberger Railroad. While Governor Bamberger wasn’t born in Davis, he had a great interest and influence in the county. In addition to the railroad which was at the time a major artery in the area, Bamberger was also responsible for Lagoon, the premier amusement park for the entire state, and home to one of the oldest operating roller coasters in the United States.

Bamberger also operated a hotel, owned part of a silver mine, established the “Jewish agricultural colony” of Clarion, and was a great proponent for the state of Utah. To this day, Bamberger holds the distinction of being the first and only Jewish person to become governor of the State of Utah and was only the third Jewish person in American history to become the governor of any state. 

Next in the gubernatorial line is Charles R. Mabey. A veteran of the Spanish-American War, Mabey filled the governor’s chair immediately after Bamberger, serving from 1921 to 1925. Though perhaps not as successful as Bamberger, Mabey was almost just as ambitious. He made large pushes for improvement in schools and highways across the state, and was unflinching in his principles, almost to a fault, resulting in his losing the election and serving only one term.

Mabey, however, was nothing if not patriotic. At the age of 41, Charles Mabey took up the call once again joined the fight in World War I, and instructed many in the service in his specialty: artillery. Considering that the largest contingent from Utah in World War I was the 145 Field Artillery, Mabey would have had his hands full instructing artillerymen on the tools that most certainly provided the necessary edge to end that terrible conflict.

It wasn’t long before the citizens of Utah turned once more to a Davis County-ite to fill the role of Governor. Henry H. Blood, with a name like a pirate captain, was elected as governor in 1933 and served until 1941, just one year before his death. Blood was involved in many different areas of Davis County, but seemed more than anything to have a proclivity for public service. 

Before his stint as governor of the Beehive State, Blood served as City Recorder for Kaysville, the Davis County Treasurer, Minute Clerk for the state senate, a member of the Davis County School Board, the Utah Public Utilities Commission, and the Utah State Road Commission. Despite serving as governor during the Great Depression, Blood saw many improvements in his time, including the opening of what would later become Utah State University – Eastern in Price. 

Twenty-four years would pass before another Davis-ite would become governor. Cal Rampton was elected and would serve as governor of Utah from 1965 to 1977. A veteran of World War II, Rampton retired from the military as a full colonel, taking with him a Bronze Star for his service. He later became an attorney, and served in the state senate, preparing him well for his future as the governor. 

Rampton was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, and many longstanding projects Utahns still enjoy today, including Abravanel Hall and the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art. One of the most popular governors in state history, Rampton is currently the only Utah governor to serve three consecutive terms. 

The track record of Davis is something to be extremely proud of. Three born and raised governors, plus one if Bamberger is included, and the odds are definitely in Davis’ favor when it comes to a gubernatorial race. Who knows? A future governor may be sitting in a Davis classroom, or working in a Davis business right now. The data shows, at least, it’s very possible.