Woodrow Wilson was Governor of New Jersey when elected president. So what was his record as Governor?
When approached by representatives of the New Jersey Democratic Party about running for governor of the state in 1910, Wilson agreed, provided that the nomination came with "no strings attached." Party bosses concurred because they needed an honest leader like Wilson to convince voters that recent scandals involving the Democrats would not tarnish the governorship and assumed the college professor would be politically naive and easy to control from behind the scenes. Wilson won the nomination on the first ballot and immediately shocked the professional politicians by declaring his independence from party bosses. He won a decisive victory in the general election over his Republican opponent and thereafter declared war on machine politics. Within two years, Wilson pushed through legislation that mandated direct party primaries for all elected officials in the state. A corrupt practices act required all candidates to file campaign financial statements, limited campaign expenditures, and outlawed corporate contributions to political campaigns. Additionally, Wilson called for a public utility commission empowered to set rates and supported passage of a workers' compensation law to aid the families of workers killed or injured on the job. By 1911, Wilson had caught the eye of the nation's progressive leaders, including William Jennings Bryan, the leading figure of the Democratic Party.