Bruce Babbitt

He was decisive, and while he was a more or less doctrinaire intellectual liberal, he understood the reality of politics and moved confidently between parties. He forced action in an important area of the No. 1 issue in the history of the West - water rights. It was in his administration that the Groundwater Management Act was put in place. Also, he greatly expanded the parks system, which boosted Arizona's reputation as a destination for outdoor recreation. 1978-1987.

Paul Fannin

Also decisive, and as conservative as Babbitt was liberal. A successful businessman, chairman of the Western Governors Conference, creator of the Arizona-Mexico Trade Commission, supporter of the system then called the junior colleges, supporter of state aid to education and helped lay the groundwork for the Central Arizona Project. His philosophy and leadership enabled a great expansion of Arizona's business and industrial base. 1959-1965.

George W. P. Hunt

Decisiveness again, this time on the left; for women's suffrage, initiative, referendum and recall; and other issues. He was stained by connection with the International Workers of the World but he was so strong a presence on so many fronts that he has to be on the list. He was prescient, too: He opposed Arizona membership in the Colorado River Compact on grounds that it gave away too much to California. 1911-1919, 1923-1929, 1931-1933.

Tom Campbell

He alternated the governorship with Hunt in Arizona's beginning as a state. His background as a tax commissioner gave him a professional understanding of the pain government can inflict through taxation. His pushback against Hunt's left-wing politics gave needed balance to the new state. 1917 and 1919-1923.

Sidney Osborn

Elected four times after failing in several campaigns, so he must have been doing something right. He slugged it out with the Legislature, vetoing bills right and left and establishing a hardball approach leading into the great political Right to Work war, during which he was adept at dancing between the fields of fire. He brought Arizona into the Colorado River Compact. 1941-1948.

- Selected by Ned Creighton, whose publishing family began covering state government in 1906. He and his wife, Diana, sold the Capitol Times in 2005.