Guinn: 28th governor

As we reported last week in our report on the death of former governor Kenny Guinn, he was Nevada’s 28th governor. So far, every report we have seen on Guinn since his death reported he is the 27th governor. These include articles in the Las Vegas Review Journal, Associated Content, the Las Vegas Sun, the Nevada Appeal, the Reno Gazette-Journal, and (of course) Wikipedia and innumerable blogs and miscellaneous websites (most of the latter probably got their information from some of the former).

The only media entities we’ve seen that did not get this item wrong were the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. They avoided the error mainly by not even mentioning where Guinn was located on the list of Nevada governors.

The error apparently stems from neglecting to count James Nye, the territorial governor who served as the first state governor for several weeks after statehood until elections could be held.

The Gazette-Journal used the term “27th elected governor” to refer to Guinn, which is even more inaccurate. Guinn was actually the state’s 24th elected governor. Nevada lieutenant governors, unlike vice presidents, do not become chief executive if the governor dies. The governorship remains vacant and the lieutenant governor remains lieutenant governor while acting as governor. Three lieutenant governors acted as governor without subsequently winning election to terms of their own. And one of them, Frank Bell, was not elected to either the governorship or the lieutenant governorship. (He was appointed.)