Jim Hunt James Baxter Hunt Jr. (born May 16, 1937) was a four-term Democratic governor of the U.S. state of North Carolina (1977-1985, and again from 1993-2001).
Hunt is a graduate of North Carolina State University, with a B.S. in agricultural education and a M.S. in agricultural economics. In 1964, he received a J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law.
Hunt is the only Governor of North Carolina to have been elected to four terms. He was first elected Governor in 1976 over Republican David Flaherty and was re-elected in 1980, defeating I. Beverly Lake. He previously served a term as Lieutenant Governor (1973-1977) under Republican Governor James Holshouser. Hunt supported a constitutional change during his first term that allowed him to be the first North Carolina governor to run for a second consecutive term.
In 1984 he lost a bitterly contested race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Jesse Helms, and left elective politics for several years. He returned in 1992 and defeated Republican Lt. Governor and Hardees executive Jim Gardner to win the Governorship, and was re-elected by a large margin over future US Congressman Robin Hayes in 1996. He left office in January 2001, and was replaced by fellow Democrat, Attorney General Mike Easley. It is widely speculated that Hunt would have been Education Secretary for Al Gore had Gore been successful in the 2000 presidential race. 2004 Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry was likewise considering Hunt for Secretary of Education had he won.
Hunt served on the Carnegie Task Force, which created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Some have criticized Hunt for over-spending during the economic boom of the late 1990s, which contributed to severe budget shortfalls in the early 2000s.
Hunt was severely criticized for allowing Darryl Hunt (no close relation known) to languish in prison for twenty years without a pardon after the wrongfully convicted Winston-Salem man was exonerated by exculpatory DNA evidence which pointed to another perpetrator. Darryl Hunt was pardoned by the succeeding Governor, Mike Easley.