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Kenny Guinn

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Kenny Guinn
27th Governor of Nevada
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 1, 2007
LieutenantLorraine Hunt
Preceded byBob Miller
Succeeded byJim Gibbons
Acting President of the
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
In office
Preceded byRobert Maxson
Succeeded byCarol Harter
Personal details
Kenneth Carroll Guinn

(1936-08-24)August 24, 1936
Garland, Arkansas, U.S.
DiedJuly 22, 2010(2010-07-22) (aged 73)
Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.
Resting placeExeter District Cemetery
Exeter, California, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Other political
Dema Guinn
(m. 1956)
EducationCalifornia State University, Fresno (BA, MA)
Utah State University (EdD)

Kenneth Carroll Guinn (August 24, 1936 – July 22, 2010), was an American businessman, academic administrator, and politician who served as the 27th Governor of Nevada from 1999 to 2007. He previously served as interim president of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) from 1994 until 1995. Originally a Democrat, he joined the Republican Party before running for governor.

Early life and career


Guinn was born in Garland, Arkansas and reared in Exeter, California. He married his wife, Dema, in Reno on July 7, 1956. They had two sons, Jeff and Steve. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in physical education from California State University, Fresno. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1957. In 1970, Guinn earned an Ed.D. from Utah State University in Logan.

Governor of Nevada


Guinn was first elected governor in 1998, defeating Democratic nominee Las Vegas Mayor Jan Laverty Jones, with 52% of the vote; Guinn became the first Republican elected governor of Nevada since 1978. When Guinn ran for re-election in 2002, he received 68% of the vote, defeating Democratic nominee state Senator Joe Neal, who received only 22%. In November 2005, Time magazine named him one of the five best governors in the U.S.[1]

As Governor of Nevada, Guinn developed a reputation as a moderate Republican who was not motivated by partisan ideology. During his first term as governor, Guinn used the national tobacco settlement money, and pushed for the creation of the Millennium Scholarship program to provide all Nevada High School graduates with a 3.25 GPA, a scholarship to attend a Nevada university. He also championed a state run prescription drug benefit program for Nevada senior citizens called Senior RX. Guinn, who prided himself on his detailed knowledge of the state budget, believed Nevada's tax structure was inherently flawed with its dependence on growth and tourism—Nevada has no income tax and relies heavily on gaming and sales tax.[citation needed]

Guinn proposed a tax restructuring during the 2003 legislative session that was met with opposition from anti-tax business groups and many anti-tax Republicans. After a divisive session that divided the Republicans and ended in a Nevada Supreme Court decision upholding the passage of the bill very little of Guinn's original proposal was enacted. As Guinn had predicted the state was plunged into a serious budget deficit as soon as the 2008 recession hit the gaming and construction industry causing sales and gaming tax revenues to plummet. In percentage terms, Guinn's 2003 tax hike was the largest tax increase ever by one of the 50 states, but it was praised as "a controversial but realistic step to shore up the overstretched budget of the nation's fastest-growing state."[1]

Guinn (far left) standing behind Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, August 2006

In 2006, Guinn declined to endorse Jim Gibbons, the Republican nominee for Governor of Nevada, due to bitter disagreements between the two politicians. Gibbons was one of the more vocal critics of Guinn's tax plan during the 2003 legislative session. Guinn said only that he hoped a Republican would succeed him as governor. Gibbons defeated the Democratic nominee, Dina Titus. Guinn's second term as governor ended on January 1, 2007, due to lifetime term limits established by the Nevada Constitution. His official portrait was painted by artist Michele Rushworth and hangs in the state capitol in Carson City, Nevada.[citation needed]

Guinn served as a board member of MGM Resorts International (formerly MGM Mirage) from May 22, 2007, until his untimely death on July 22, 2010, under chairman and CEO Terrence Lanni (1995–2008) and James Murren (2008–present).[2]



After leaving the governorship, Guinn became a board member of MGM Resorts International (formerly MGM Mirage) on May 22, 2007, serving under chairman and CEO Terrence Lanni (1995–2008) and James Murren (2008–present).[3] Guinn died on July 22, 2010, at the age of 73, of complications from injuries sustained after falling from the roof of his Las Vegas home and possibly following a heart attack. He was pronounced dead at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas.[4]

Guinn is interred at the Exeter District Cemetery in Exeter, California.


  1. ^ a b Ripley, Amanda; Tumulty, Karen (November 13, 2005). "America's 5 Best Governors". TIME Magazine. Archived from the original on November 24, 2005. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
  2. ^ "Kenny C. Guinn Elected to MGM MIRAGE Board of Directors".
  3. ^ "Kenny C. Guinn Elected to MGM MIRAGE Board of Directors".
  4. ^ Kanigher, Steve (July 22, 2010). "Former Gov. Kenny Guinn dead at 73". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved July 22, 2010.
Academic offices
Preceded by Acting President of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
1994 – 1995
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for Governor of Nevada
1998, 2002
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chair of the Republican Governors Association
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Nevada
Succeeded by