Iowa Forgotten History: He Lasted Only 16 Days as Iowa Governor
Most Iowans and many Americans are aware Terry Branstad is the longest-serving governor in not just Iowa history, but U.S. history. He served as our governor for 8,169 days. But what about the flipside? Well, here's a fun Iowa history nugget for you: A Waterloo native named Robert David Fulton was Iowa's shortest-serving governor, holding the position for only 16 days. Or, 8,153 fewer days than Gov. Branstad did.
Robert D. Fulton's career as governor wasn't cut short due to scandal
But Robert D. Fulton was not given the boot. He committed no crimes while in office. He didn't die in office. Oh, and he didn't resign after he found out the governor's salary. Nothing like that. Here's his story.
Born in Waterloo on May 13, 1929, Fulton got into state politics, and; while there's not much written on his life as a politician, he did become Lieutenant Governor of Iowa. A Democrat, he served with Governor Harold Hughes from 1965-1969 as his Lieutenant.
Now, in 1968, Governor Hughes had his eye on a different political prize: becoming a United States Senator. Representing the great state of Iowa in D.C. seemed more appealing. He ran, and he won. As a result, Governor Hughes became U.S. Senator Hughes on January 1, 1969. Because of his new gig, Hughes resigned from the office of Iowa Governor that same day, which left Fulton as the governor.
That same year Hughes ran for senate, a Republican-turned-Democrat named Robert D. Ray ran for governor to replace him and won. That year, the governor would not be inaugurated until January 16. So, Fulton was our governor from January 1, 1969, 'til January 16, 1969. He served only 16 days. No scandals. No resignations. He was simply a fill-in due to inauguration laws.
After his Iowa record-breaking short run as the head of state, Fulton would go on to serve as a member of the 1971 Democratic National Committee. Fulton is married and has four children. As of this writing, he's still alive at 91 years young.