James Grubbs Martin

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James Grubbs Martin

In office
January 5, 1985 – January 9, 1993
Preceded by James Baxter "Jim" Hunt, Jr.
Succeeded by Jim Hunt

U.S. Representative for North Carolina's 9th congressional district
In office
January 3, 1973 – January 3, 1985
Preceded by Charles Raper Jonas
Succeeded by Alex McMillan

Commissioner of Mecklenburg County
In office

Born December 11, 1935
Savannah, Georgia
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Dorothy Ann "Dottie" McAulay Martin (married 1957)
Children Three children
Residence Charlottte, North Carolina
Alma mater Davidson College
(Bachelor of Science
Princeton University (Ph.D.)
Occupation Professor

James Grubbs Martin (born December 11, 1935) is an organic chemist who served two terms from 1985 to 1993 as the 70th Governor of North Carolina. He was the third Republican elected to the office since Reconstruction.


Martin was born in Savannah, Georgia and subsequently reared in South Carolina. In 1957, he graduated from Davidson College in Davidson in suburban Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, with a Bachelor of Science degree in organic chemistry. In 1960, he received a Ph.D. from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.[1] He then served until 1972 as an associate professor of chemistry at his alma mater, Davidson College. As a professor at Davidson, he advised the school's Young Republicans chapter.

Political career

In 1966, Martin was elected to the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. He served for seven years, including two stints as the board chairman. He was a president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

Martin was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1972 representing for six terms the Charlotte-based 9th congressional district. Representative Martin served on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee member and as a chairman of the House Republican Research Committee.

In 1984, with incumbent governor James Baxter Hunt, Jr., term-limited, Martin won the Republican nomination and then defeated the Democrat Attorney General Rufus Lige Edmisten (born 1941) by a nine-point margin. In his gubernatorial campaign, Martin was helped by the successful reelection of U.S. President Ronald W. Reagan and the backing of the outgoing Democratic lieutenant governor, James Collins "Jimmy" Green (1921-2000), who had lost the gubernatorial primary to Edmisten and was popular in the eastern portion of the state which then had many Conservative Democrats, who provided the election margins five times for conservative United States Senator Jesse Helms of Raleigh. In that same election, Republican Helms defeated a strong challenge from outgoing Governor Jim Hunt.[2]

Martin promised if elected to complete Interstate 40 from the capital city of Raleigh to Wilmington on the Atlantic Coast. The highway begins in Barstow, California, but had never been completed for the last hundred miles.[3]

Martin was easily reelected in 1988, when he defeated outgoing Lieutenant Governor Robert Byrd Jordan, III (1932-2020) by thirteen percentage points. In so doing, he became the only member of his party to have been elected to two terms as governor of North Carolina. And the 1968 Republican gubernatorial nominee and a former U.S. Representative, Jim Gardner, was elected to serve under Martin as lieutenant governor.

Later years

When Martin retired from political life in 1993, he was named the chairman of the board of the James Cannon Research Center of the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. In 2012, he led an investigation into academic irregularities at the flagship University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[4]

In 2016, Martin endorsed the Moderate Republican Governor John Kasich of Ohio for his party's presidential nomination, which was instead won by [the insurgent Donald Trump.[5]


  1. James G. Martin (1960). Stereochemistry of the Diels-Alder Reaction. Princeton University. 
  2. Political grudges are nothing new. John Locke Foundation: Carolina Journal (October 11, 2013). Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  3. Governor Martin and His Campaign Promise to Complete I-40 | NC DNCR (ncdcr.gov), accessed October 5, 2021.
  4. Former governor to dig deeper into UNC academics. wral.com (August 16, 2012). Retrieved on October 5, 2021.
  5. NC's presidential endorsement list, Raleigh News and Observer, March 14, 2016; under pay wall.