THOMAS R. CARPER was born in Beckley, West Virginia, and grew up in Danville, Virginia. He attended Ohio State University, graduating in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in economics. He completed five years of service as a naval flight officer, serving in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. A member of the Naval Reserve for nearly twenty years, he retired with the rank of captain in 1991. In 1973, following his active military service, he moved to Delaware to earn a master's degree in business administration at the University of Delaware. He worked in Delaware's economic development office from 1975 to 1976 and then was elected state treasurer at age twenty-nine. He was reelected in 1978 and 1980. As state treasurer, he established a cash management system and played a major role in improving the state's credit rating from the worst in the nation to a respectable "AA" rating in just five years. He was elected in 1982 to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving five consecutive terms. As a congressman, he chaired the House Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization and was a member of the Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs Committee and the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee. As Governor, he focused on job creation, overhauling the state's education and welfare systems, strengthening families and reducing teenage pregnancy, and improving the state's credit rating while lowering taxes and preventing crime. Governor Carper served as chairman of the National Governors' Association from 1998 to 1999. He was chair of NGA's Center for Best Practices in 2000.