Robert E. Wise

For other people named Robert Wise, see Robert Wise (disambiguation).

Bob Wise
33rd Governor of West Virginia
In office
January 15, 2001 – January 17, 2005
Preceded by Cecil H. Underwood
Succeeded by Joe Manchin
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 2nd district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by Harley O. Staggers, Jr.
Succeeded by Shelley Moore Capito
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1983 – January 3, 1993
Preceded by Mick Staton
Succeeded by Nick Rahall
Personal details
Born Robert Ellsworth Wise, Jr.
(1948-01-06) January 6, 1948 (age 66)
Washington, D.C.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sandra Casber Wise
Alma mater Duke University, Tulane University

Robert Ellsworth "Bob" Wise, Jr. (born January 6, 1948) is an American politician. A Democrat, Wise served as the 33rd Governor of West Virginia from January 2001 to January 2005.


Early life

Wise was born in Washington, D.C.. He received a B.A. from Duke University in 1970 and a law degree from Tulane University Law School in 1975.[1]

Wise's political career began in 1980, when he defeated an incumbent senator for election to the state Senate of West Virginia as a Democrat from the state capital, Charleston. On July 25, 1984, he married Sandra Casber.[2]

Congressional career

In 1981, Wise started a career in the West Virginia Senate before being elected in 1982 to the U.S. House of Representatives from West Virginia's 3rd congressional district.[1] He unseated incumbent Republican Mick Staton and was reelected eight times. His district was renumbered the 2nd after West Virginia's declining population cost it a congressional seat after the 1990 United States Census. Wise served as an at-large whip, regional whip and parliamentarian for the Democratic Party. He also served as ranking member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. In December 1998, Representative Bob Wise announced that he was considering forming an exploratory committee to raise money for a campaign for governor.[1] In 2000, Wise ran for governor against incumbent Republican Cecil H. Underwood, winning by 51% to 47%.

Governor of West Virginia

Wise's tenure as Governor of West Virginia, during an overall economic downturn following the bursting of the dot-com bubble and the economic fallout from the September 11, 2001 attacks saw the greatest loss in employment in state history (including the Great Depression) and a tightened fiscal environment. During this period, Wise responded to the economic challenges of the state by attempting to attract businesses through an extensive tax and infrastructure assistance program. In one instance, the state issued $215 million in grants to spur $1 billion investment in projects, such as the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, Cabela's, the Marshall University Biotechnology Development Center and the West Virginia High Technology Consortium.

Wise is credited with creating the PROMISE scholarship, which allows many West Virginia students to attend any public, state university free of charge. The program is funded through video lottery revenue,[3] and was inspired by the HOPE scholarship program in Georgia. Since its inception, the percentage of students leaving the state to pursue post-secondary degrees has dropped to its lowest levels since the mid-1990s. Wise was also the first governor to propose full funding for the Higher Education Grant Program.[3]

During his term he chaired the National Governors Association Committee on Natural Resources and the Southern States Energy Board.


Wise became the first governor of West Virginia not to stand for re-election since the Constitution of West Virginia was amended in 1970 to permit two consecutive terms. In August 2003, he announced that he would not run again after admitting to an affair with a state employee.[4]

On August 4, 2004, in an interview on The Daily Show before Wise's withdrawal, Phillip "Icky" Frye told Rob Corddry that he was running for governor, despite being unqualified, to be a nuisance to Wise. In that and other interviews, he cited Wise's affair with his wife as his motivation.[5][6]

West Virginia Secretary of State Joe Manchin also challenged Wise for the Democratic nomination. After Wise withdrew, Manchin became the primary election favorite. Manchin easily won the nomination and then the general election.[7]

Post-political career

Following his term, he returned to Washington, where he now serves as the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national education policy organization.

In 2010, Wise partnered with Jeb Bush to co-chair the Digital Learning Council (DLC), a diverse group of more than 100 leaders from education, government, philanthropy, business, technology and think tanks charged to develop a roadmap of reform for local, state and federal lawmakers and policymakers. In December 2010, the DLC released The 10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning.

In August 2011, Wise was named to The NonProfit Times "Power & Influence Top 50," an annual listing of the fifty most influential executives in the nonprofit sector.[8]


External links

  • Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • The Washington Post
  • Inaugural Address of Robert E. Wise, Jr.
  • Official Bob Wise biography
Preceded by
Mick Staton
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Nick Rahall
Preceded by
Harley O. Staggers, Jr.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from West Virginia's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Shelley Moore Capito
Political offices
Preceded by
Cecil H. Underwood
Governor of West Virginia
January 15, 2001–January 17, 2005
Succeeded by
Joe Manchin

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