JIM EDGAR was born in Vinita, Oklahoma, and was raised in Charleston, Illinois. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Eastern Illinois University, where he served as student body president. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives in 1976 and reelected in 1978. In 1981 he was appointed secretary of state. He was elected to that position in 1982, and was reelected in 1986 by the largest plurality of any candidate in the state’s history. He was elected governor in 1990 and was reelected in 1994, carrying 101 of the state’s 102 counties.