James Baxter Hunt Jr. (born
May 16, 1937) is an American politician and a former four-term
Democratic governor of the state of North Carolina (1977–1985, and 1993–2001).
He is the
longest-serving governor in the state's history.
born in Wilson, North
He is a
graduate of North Carolina State University, with a B.S. in
agricultural education and a M.S.
in agricultural economics. He
also served as Student Body
. In 1964, he received a J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of
Hunt is the only Governor of
to have been elected to four terms. He was first
elected Governor in 1976 over Republican David Flaherty and was
re-elected in 1980, defeating I.
. He previously served a
term as Lieutenant
(1973–1977) under Republican Governor James Holshouser
. Hunt supported a
constitutional change during his first term that allowed him to be
the first North Carolina governor to run for a second consecutive
In 1981 Hunt chaired the Hunt Commission, named after himself,
which established superdelegates
the Democratic National
U.S. Senate Run
In 1984 he lost a bitterly contested race for the U.S. Senate
by Jesse Helms
, and left elective
politics for several years. He returned in 1992 and defeated
Republican Lt. Governor and Hardees
executive Jim Gardner
the Governorship. Hunt was re-elected by a large margin over future
US Congressman Robin Hayes
in 1996. He
left office in January 2001, and was replaced by fellow Democrat,
Attorney General Mike Easley
Actions and political views
Hunt was an early proponent of teaching standards and early
childhood education, gaining national recognition for the Smart Start
program for pre-kindergarteners
. In 2000 he was
mentioned as a possible Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United
or Education Secretary
had Gore been successful in the 2000
presidential race. 2004 Democratic
was likewise considering Hunt
for Secretary of Education had he won, and he was considered a
candidate to be Barack Obama
Secretary of Education.
Hunt served on the Carnegie Task Force, which created the National
Board for Professional Teaching Standards
and more recently on
the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education.
Hunt has been criticized for over-spending during the economic boom
of the late 1990s, which contributed to severe budget shortfalls in
the early 2000s.
Hunt was also criticized for allowing Darryl
(no close relation known) to remain in prison for twenty
years after the wrongfully convicted Winston-Salem man was
exonerated by exculpatory DNA evidence which pointed to another
perpetrator. Darryl Hunt was pardoned by the succeeding Governor,
Mike Easley. During his terms in office Hunt oversaw 13 executions
(two during his first period in office, 11 during his second),
including the first post-Furman execution of a female (Velma Barfield
) and the first post-Furman
execution in North Carolina (James
Governor Hunt currently is a member of the law firm of Womble Carlyle
Sandridge & Rice PLLC
, in its Raleigh office. He also
enjoys spending his time on his farm looking after his Holstein
Cattle and miniature pony "Herby".
Governor Hunt chairs the Board of Directors of two institutes which
The James B.
Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy at
UNC-Chapel Hill, and the Institute for
Emerging Issues at N.C. State University in Raleigh.
He also serves on the North
Carolina Advisory Board of DonorsChoose
Hunt is Presbyterian
and attends First
Presbyterian Church of Wilson, NC.
James B. Hunt High School in Wilson County,
North Carolina is named for him, as is a dormitory at the North Carolina School of Science and
- "Education is our future it’s everything. We must not settle
for anything short of excellence in our schools."