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In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, a governor serves as the
chief executive officer A chief executive officer (CEO), chief administrator officer, or just chief executive (CE), is one of a number of Corporate Executive, corporate executives in charge of managing an organization especially an independent Legal person, legal entity ...
and
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
in each of the fifty
states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
and in the five permanently inhabited
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
, functioning as
head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the executive Executive may refer to: Role, title, or function * Executive (government), branch of government that has authority and responsibility for the administrat ...
therein. As such, governors are responsible for implementing state laws and overseeing the operation of the state
executive branch The executive (short for executive branch or executive power) is the part of government that enforces law, and has Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (polity), state. In political systems based on the principle ...
. As state leaders, governors advance and pursue new and revised policies and programs using a variety of tools, among them
executive orders An executive order is a means of issuing federal presidential directive, directives in the United States, used by the President of the United States, that manages operations of the Federal government of the United States, federal governmen ...
, executive budgets, and legislative proposals and vetoes. Governors carry out their management and leadership responsibilities and objectives with the support and assistance of department and agency heads, many of whom they are empowered to appoint. A majority of governors have the authority to appoint state court judges as well, in most cases from a list of names submitted by a nominations committee. All but five states (
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

Arizona
,
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...

Maine
,
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
,
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
, and
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
) have a
lieutenant governor A lieutenant governor, lieutenant-governor, or vice governor is a high officer of state, whose precise role and rank vary by jurisdiction. Often a lieutenant governor is the deputy, or lieutenant A lieutenant ( or abbreviated Lt., Lt, LT, Lie ...
. The lieutenant governor succeeds to the gubernatorial office (the powers and duties but not the office, in
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
and
West Virginia West Virginia () is a U.S. state, state in the Appalachian region, Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic (United States), Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern United States, Southeastern regions of the United States.The United States Census Bureau, Census Burea ...
), if vacated by impeachment, death, or resignation of the previous governor. Lieutenant governors also serve as unofficial acting state governors in case the incumbent governors are unable to fulfill their duties, and they often serve as presiding officers of the upper houses of state legislatures. But in such cases, they cannot participate in political debates, and they have no vote whenever these houses are not equally divided.


Role and powers

States are semi-sovereign republics sharing sovereignty with the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
of the United States, and possess a number of powers and rights under the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...
, such as regulating intrastate commerce, holding
elections An election is a formal group decision-makingGroup decision-making (also known as collaborative decision-making or collective decision-making) is a situation faced when individuals An individual is that which exists as a distinct entity. Ind ...
, creating
local governments Local government is a generic term for the lowest tiers of public administration Public administration is the implementation of government policy Public policy is a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government ...
, and ratifying
constitutional amendments A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitutional amendments
. Each state has its own
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
, grounded in republican principles, and government, consisting of three branches: executive, legislative, and judicial. Also, due to the shared
sovereignty Sovereignty is the supreme authority within a territory. Sovereignty entails hierarchy within the state, as well as external autonomy for states. In any state, sovereignty is assigned to the person, body, or institution that has the ultimate a ...
between each state and the
federal government A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of Institutionalisation, institutionalized ...
,
Americans Americans are the citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recogn ...
are
citizens Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...
of both the
federal republic A federal republic is a federation A federation (also known as a federal state) is a political entity A polity is an identifiable political entity—any group of people who have a collective identity, who are organized by some form of I ...
and of the state in which they reside. The governor heads the government's executive branch in each state or territory and, depending on the individual jurisdiction, may have considerable control over government budgeting, the power of appointment of many officials (including many judges), and a considerable role in legislation. The governor may also have additional roles, such as that of
commander-in-chief A commander-in-chief or supreme commander is the person who exercises supreme command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men' ...
of the state's
National Guard National Guard is the name used by a wide variety of current and historical uniformed organizations in different countries. The original National Guard National Guard is the name used by a wide variety of current and historical uniformed organizati ...
(when not federalized) and of that state's respective defense force (which is not subject to federalization). In many states and territories the governor also has partial or absolute power to commute or
pardon A pardon is a government decision to allow a person to be relieved of some or all of the legal consequences resulting from a criminal conviction. A pardon may be granted before or after conviction for the crime, depending on the laws of the j ...

pardon
a
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
sentence Sentence(s) or The Sentence may refer to: Common uses * Sentence (law), the punishment a judge gives to a defendant found guilty of a crime * Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence (mathematical logic), a formula not cont ...
. All U.S. governors serve four-year terms except those in
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
and
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
, who serve two-year terms. In all states, the governor is directly elected, and in most cases has considerable practical powers, though this may be moderated by the
state legislature A state legislature is a Legislature, legislative branch or body of a State (country subdivision), political subdivision in a Federalism, federal system. Two federations literally use the term "state legislature": * The legislative branches of e ...
and in some cases by other elected executive officials. In the five extant U.S. territories, all governors are now directly elected as well, though in the past many territorial governors were historically appointed by the President of the United States. Governors can
veto A veto (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Re ...
state bills, and in all but seven states they have the power of the
line-item veto The line-item veto, also called the partial veto, is a special form of veto power that authorizes a chief executive to reject particular provisions of a bill enacted by a legislature without vetoing the entire bill. Many countries have different ...
on appropriations bills (a power the President does not have). In some cases legislatures can override a gubernatorial veto by a two-thirds vote, in others by three-fifths. In
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
,
Indiana Indiana () is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 38th-largest by area and the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 17th-most populous o ...

Indiana
,
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ...
, and
Tennessee Tennessee (, ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The S ...

Tennessee
, the governor's veto can be overridden by a simple majority vote, making it virtually useless. In
Arkansas Arkansas () is a U.S. state, state in the South Central United States, South Central region of the United States, home to more than three million people as of 2018. Its name is from the Osage language, a Dhegihan languages, Dhegiha Siouan la ...
, a gubernatorial veto may be overridden by an
absolute majority A supermajority, supra-majority, qualified majority or special majority, is a requirement for a proposal to gain a specified level of support which is greater than the threshold of more than one-half used for a majority A majority, also called ...
. The
governor of North Carolina The governor of North Carolina is the head of government of the United States, U.S. state of North Carolina. The governor directs the Executive (government), executive branch of the Government of North Carolina, government and is the Commander-i ...
had no veto power until a 1996 referendum. In 47 of the 50 states, whenever there is a vacancy of one of the state's
U.S. Senate The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress The United States Congress is the legislature of the federal government of the United States. It is Bicameralism, bicameral, comprising a lower body, the ...
seats, that state's governor has the power to appoint someone to fill the vacancy until a
special election A by-election (also spelled bye-election), also known as a special election in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country in . It consists of ...
is held; the governors of
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
, and
Wisconsin Wisconsin () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Wisconsin
do not have this power. A state governor may give an annual
State of the State addressThe State of the State Address is a speech Speech is human vocal communication using language. Each language uses Phonetics, phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words (that is, all English words sound di ...
in order to satisfy a constitutional stipulation that a governor must report annually (or in older constitutions described as being "from time to time") on the state or condition of the state. Governors of states may also perform ceremonial roles, such as greeting dignitaries, conferring state decorations, issuing symbolic proclamations or attending the
state fair A state fair is an annual competitive and recreational gathering of a U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continen ...
. The governor may also have an
official residence An official residence is the residence A residence is a place (normally a building) used as a home A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many Human, humans. It is a fully or semi shel ...
(see Governor's Mansion). In a ranking of the power of the governorship in all 50 states, University of North Carolina political scientist Thad Beyle makes the distinction between "personal powers" of governors, which are factors that vary from person to person, season to season - and the "institutional powers" that are set in place by law. Examples of measurable personal factors are how large a governor's margin of victory was on election day, and where he or she stands in public opinion polls. Whether a governor has strong budget controls, appointment authority, and veto powers are examples of institutional powers.


History

In colonial North America, governors were chosen in a variety of ways, depending on how the colony was organized. In the
crown colonies Within the British Empire, a Crown colony or royal colony was a colony In political science, a colony is a territory subject to a form of foreign rule. Though dominated by the foreign colonizers, colonies remain separate from the administ ...
of Great Britain, France, and Spain, the governor was chosen by the ruling monarch of the colonizing power, or his designees; in British colonies, the
Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the Committee of the Privy Council appointed for the consideration of a ...
was often the primary decision maker. Colonies based on a corporate charter, such as the
Connecticut Colony The Connecticut Colony or Colony of Connecticut, originally known as the Connecticut River Colony or simply the River Colony, was an English colony in New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United Stat ...
and the
Massachusetts Bay Colony The Massachusetts Bay Colony (1630–1691), more formally The Colony of Massachusetts Bay, was an English settlement on the east coast of America around the Massachusetts Bay Massachusetts Bay is a bay A bay is a recessed, coastal body ...
, elected their own governors based on rules spelled out in the charter or other colonial legislation. In
proprietary colonies A proprietary colony was a type of English colony mostly in North America North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It can also be described as the northern subcon ...
, such as the
Province of Carolina Carolina was a province of Kingdom of England, England (1663–1707) and Kingdom of Great Britain, Great Britain (1707–1712) that existed in North America and the Caribbean from 1663 until partitioned into Province of North Carolina, North an ...
before it became a crown colony (and was divided into
North North is one of the four compass points The points of the compass are the vectors by which planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydro ...
and
South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ''south'' comes from Old English ''sūþ'', from earlier Proto-Germanic language, Proto-Germa ...
), governors were chosen by the
Lords Proprietor A lord proprietor is a person granted a royal charter A royal charter is a formal grant issued by a monarch under royal prerogative The royal prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege and immunity, recognized in common law ...
who controlled the colony. In the early years of the
American Revolutionary War The American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), also known as the Revolutionary War and the American War of Independence, was initiated by delegates from Thirteen Colonies, thirteen American colonies of British America in Continental Congress ...
, eleven of the
Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colonies or the Thirteen American Colonies, were a group of Kingdom of Great Britain, British colonies on the Atlantic coast of North America. Founded in the 17th and 18th centuries, th ...
evicted (with varying levels of violence) royal and proprietary governors. The other two colonies (
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
and
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as ...
) had corporate charters; Connecticut Governor
Jonathan Trumbull Jonathan Trumbull Sr. (October 12, 1710August 17, 1785) was an American politician and statesman who served as List of Governors of Connecticut, Governor of Connecticut during the American Revolution. Trumbull and Nicholas Cooke of Rhode Island we ...
was governor before and during the war period, while in Rhode Island, Governor Joseph Wanton was removed from office in 1775 for failing to support the rebel war effort. Before achieving statehood, many of the 50 states were
territories A territory is an administrative division, usually an area that is under the jurisdiction of a sovereign state. In most country, countries, a ''territory'' is an organized division of an area that is controlled by a country but is not formally d ...
or parts of territories. Administered by the federal government, they had governors who were appointed by the
president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) A president is a leader of an organization, company, community, club, trade union, university or other group. The relationship between a president and a Chief Executive Officer, chi ...

president
and confirmed by the
Senate The Curia Julia in the Roman Forum ">Roman_Forum.html" ;"title="Curia Julia in the Roman Forum">Curia Julia in the Roman Forum A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislatu ...
rather than elected by the resident population. Election of territorial governors began in
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
in 1948. The last appointed territorial governor,
Hyrum Rex Lee Hyrum Rex Lee (April 8, 1910 – July 26, 2001) was an American government employee and diplomat who was the last non-elected Governor of American Samoa. Lee served as governor from 1961 to 1967, and again briefly from 1977 to 1978. Governor Lee' ...
in
American Samoa #REDIRECT American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territory of the United States Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) ...

American Samoa
, left office in 1978.


Demographics


Party

There are currently 27 states with a
Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government that is not a monarchy or dictatorship, and is usually associated with the rule of law. ** Republicanism, the ideology in support of republics or against ...
governor and 23 states with a
Democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...
governor. Four Democrats (including the
Mayor of the District of Columbia The mayor of the District of Columbia is the head of the executive branch of the government of the District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and ...
), one Republican, and one New Progressive also occupy territorial governorships or mayorships. No independent and other third parties currently hold a governorship.


Tenure

For each term, governors serve four years in office. The exceptions are
Vermont Vermont () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in ...

Vermont
and
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
where tenures are two years long. The longest-serving current governor is
Jay Inslee Jay Robert Inslee (; born February 9, 1951) is an American politician who has served as the 23rd governor of Washington since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995 and again ...
of
Washington Washington commonly refers to: * Washington (state), United States * Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States ** Federal government of the United States (metonym) ** Washington metropolitan area, the metropolitan area centered on Washingt ...
, who was re-elected to his third term in 2020. The longest-serving governor of all time was
Terry Branstad Terry Edward Branstad (born November 17, 1946) is an American politician and former diplomat. A member of the Republican Party Republican Party is a name used by many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates ...

Terry Branstad
of
Iowa Iowa () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states: Wiscon ...

Iowa
, who was elected to his sixth (non-consecutive) term in
2014 2014 was designated as: * International Year of Crystallography * International Year of Family Farming * International Year of Small Island Developing States * International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People __TOC__ Events Jan ...
. Governor Branstad resigned on May 24, 2017 to become the United States Ambassador to China. He held the title of
Governor of Iowa A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of government exercising authority in and holding Moral responsibility, responsibility for the governance of a State (p ...
for 22 years. On December 14, 2015, he became the longest-serving governor in US history, breaking the record held by George Clinton of
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
, who served 21 years from 1777 to 1795 and from 1801 to 1804. The shortest-serving governor of all time was
Hiram Bingham III Hiram Bingham III (November 19, 1875 – June 6, 1956) was an American academic, explorer, and politician. He made public the existence of the Inca The Inca Empire ( qu, Tawantinsuyu,  "four parts together"), also known as the Incan E ...
of
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
, who served for one day between January 7 and January 8, 1925, following the suicide of
Frank Bosworth Brandegee
Frank Bosworth Brandegee
. In the majority but some of the states and territories, term limit laws cap a governor's tenure.


Age

The oldest current governor is
Kay Ivey Kay Ellen Ivey (born October 15, 1944) is an American politician serving as the 54th and current governor of Alabama A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of ...

Kay Ivey
of
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
, born on . The youngest current state governor is
Ron DeSantis Ronald Dion DeSantis (born September 14, 1978) is an American politician and attorney serving as the 46th List of governors of Florida, governor of Florida since 2019. A member of the Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, he repr ...
of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geor ...

Florida
who was born on . Among territorial governors,
Ralph Torres Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres (born August 6, 1979) is an American Republican politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, ...

Ralph Torres
of the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
is youngest, born on . The youngest person to ever serve as a governor in the United States was
Stevens T. Mason
Stevens T. Mason
of the
Michigan Territory The Territory of Michigan was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from June 30, 1805, until January 26, 1837, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the United States, Union as the Michigan, Stat ...
, first elected in 1835 having just turned 24. Mason would later become the first governor of the state of
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
when it was admitted to the Union in January 1837, when he was 25. Mason was re-elected in November 1837, then age 26. The second youngest governor ever elected was
Henry C. Warmoth Henry Clay Warmoth (May 9, 1842 – September 30, 1931) was an American attorney and veteran Civil War officer in the Union Army who was elected governor and state representative of Louisiana. A Republican, he was 26 years old when elected as List ...
of
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
, who was elected during reconstruction in 1868 at the age of 26. The third youngest governor was
William Sprague IV William Sprague IV (September 12, 1830September 11, 1915) was the 27th Governor of Rhode Island from 1860 to 1863, and U.S. Senator from 1863 to 1875. He participated in the First Battle of Bull Run during the American Civil War while he was a s ...
of
Rhode Island Rhode Island (, like ''road''), officially the State of Rhode Island, is a state in the New England New England is a region comprising six states in the Northeastern United States The Northeastern United States (also referred to as ...
, who was elected in 1860 at the age of 29. When future President Bill Clinton was elected List of governors of Arkansas, Governor of Arkansas in 1978 at age 32, he became the youngest governor since Harold Stassen of Minnesota, elected in 1938 at age 31. In 35 states, the minimum age requirement of the governor is 30, though in some it is 25 (7), 21 (1), or 18 (5). Oklahoma is the only state with an older age, 31. Some states require the governor to be a qualified elector/voter, implying a minimum age of 18. Vermont requires candidates to be residents of the state for at least four years as of Election Day, which would preclude small children from running, but has no other implicit or explicit age limit.


Gender

As of March 2021, there are 41 male state governors and 9 female governors: Kate Brown of
Oregon Oregon () is a U.S. state, state in the Pacific Northwest region of the Western United States. The Columbia River delineates much of Oregon's northern boundary with Washington (state), Washington, while the Snake River delineates much of it ...

Oregon
,
Kay Ivey Kay Ellen Ivey (born October 15, 1944) is an American politician serving as the 54th and current governor of Alabama A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch The executive is the branch of ...

Kay Ivey
of
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = "Alabama (state song), Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat ...

Alabama
, Kim Reynolds of
Iowa Iowa () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern region of the United States, bordered by the Mississippi River to the east and the Missouri River and Big Sioux River to the west. It is bordered by six states: Wiscon ...

Iowa
, Laura Kelly of Kansas, Janet Mills of
Maine Maine () is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States, bordered by New Hampshire to the west; the Gulf of Maine to the southeast; and the Provinces and territories of Canada, Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Qu ...

Maine
, Gretchen Whitmer of
Michigan Michigan () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Michigan
, Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Kathy Hochul of
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota. Of those, Ivey, Noem, and Reynolds are Republican Party (United States), Republicans, while Brown, Kelly, Mills, Whitmer, Grisham and Hochul are Democratic Party (United States), Democrats. Four territorial governors are male; one territorial governor and the mayor of Washington, D.C. are female. Forty-three women have served or are currently serving as state or territorial governors, including two in an acting capacity. The first female governor was Nellie Tayloe Ross of
Wyoming Wyoming () is a U.S. state, state in the Mountain states, Mountain West subregion of the Western United States. The List of U.S. states and territories by area, 10th largest state by area, it is also the List of U.S. states and territories b ...
(widow of the late Wyoming Governor William B. Ross) who was elected on November 4, 1924 and sworn in on January 5, 1925 succeeding Frank Lucas (Wyoming politician), Frank Lucas. Also elected on November 4, 1924 was Miriam A. Ferguson of Texas (wife of former Texas Governor James E. Ferguson), succeeding Pat Morris Neff on January 21, 1925. The first female governor elected without being the wife or widow of a past state governor was Ella Grasso, Ella T. Grasso of
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
, elected in 1974 and sworn in on January 8, 1975.
Connecticut Connecticut () is the southernmost state in the New England region of the United States. As of the 2010 United States census, 2010 Census, it has the highest per-capita income, second-highest level of List of U.S. states and territories by H ...
,
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

Arizona
and New Mexico are the only three states to have elected female governors from both major parties.
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
has also had female governors from two parties, but Republican Vesta M. Roy served only in the acting capacity for a short time. Arizona was the first state where a woman followed another woman as governor (they were from different parties). Arizona also has had the most female governors with a total of four, and is the first state to have three women in a row serve as governor. Washington (state), Washington was the first state to have both a female governor and female U.S. Senators serving at the same time (Christine Gregoire; Patty Murray; Maria Cantwell, respectively), from 2005 to 2013.
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
was the first and currently only state to have a female governor and entirely female Congressional delegation serving at the same time, from 2013 to 2015. Nine women have been serving as chief executive of their states since January 5, 2019, when Kristi Noem was inaugurated as the first female governor of South Dakota. This ties the record previously set on two occasions: first, between December 4, 2006, when Sarah Palin was inaugurated as the first female governor of
Alaska Alaska (; ale, Alax̂sxax̂; ; ems, Alas'kaaq; Central Alaskan Yup'ik language, Yup'ik: ''Alaskaq''; tli, Anáaski) is a U.S. state in the Western United States, on the northwest extremity of the country's West Coast of the United State ...

Alaska
, and January 14, 2008, when Kathleen Blanco left office as governor of
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
; and second, between January 10, 2009, when Bev Perdue, Beverly Perdue was inaugurated as governor of North Carolina, and January 20, 2009, when Ruth Ann Minner retired as governor of Delaware.


LGBT status

There are currently two governors who identify as LGBT: Jared Polis of Colorado, who identifies as gay, and Kate Brown of Oregon, who identifies as Bisexuality, bisexual.


Race and ethnicity

Ethnic minorities as Race and ethnicity in the United States Census, defined by the United States Census currently constitute 38.9% of the total population of the U.S. as of 2018. There are currently 46 state governors who are non-Hispanic whites of European Americans, European American background. There are 4 minority governors: Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, who is of Hispanic descent; Chris Sununu of
New Hampshire New Hampshire ( ) is a U.S. state, state in the New England region of the United States. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Gulf of Maine to the east, and the Canadian province of Quebec to the nor ...

New Hampshire
, who is of Lebanese, Palestinian, Latin American, Irish and British descent; David Ige of Hawaii, who is of Ryukyuan descent; and Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma, who is a member of the Cherokee Nation. Sununu and Stitt are Republican Party (United States), Republicans while Grisham and Ige are Democratic Party (United States), Democrats. Among the five U.S. territories, one Hispanic (Pedro Pierluisi of
Puerto Rico Puerto Rico (; abbreviated PR; tnq, Boriken, ''Borinquen''), officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico ( es, link=yes, Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico, lit=Free Associated State of Puerto Rico) is a Caribbean island and Unincorporated ...

Puerto Rico
), one Black (Albert Bryan (politician), Albert Bryan of the United States Virgin Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands), and three Pacific Islander Americans (Lou Leon Guerrero of Guam, Lolo Matalasi Moliga, Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga of
American Samoa #REDIRECT American Samoa American Samoa ( sm, Amerika Sāmoa, ; also ' or ') is an unincorporated territory of the United States Under United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) ...

American Samoa
, and
Ralph Torres Ralph Deleon Guerrero Torres (born August 6, 1979) is an American Republican politician A politician is a person active in party politics Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, ...

Ralph Torres
of the
Northern Mariana Islands The Northern Mariana Islands, officially the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI; ch, Sankattan Siha Na Islas Mariånas; cal, Commonwealth Téél Falúw kka Efáng llól Marianas), is an unincorporated territories of the Unit ...

Northern Mariana Islands
) currently serve as governor. African-American Muriel Bowser is the current
Mayor of the District of Columbia The mayor of the District of Columbia is the head of the executive branch of the government of the District of Columbia ) , image_skyline = , image_caption = Clockwise from top left: the Washington Monument and ...
, an office equivalent to a governor. In 1990, Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the first African-American governor of any state since the Reconstruction era.


Birthplace

14 of the current state governors were born outside the state they are serving: Mike Dunleavy (politician), Mike Dunleavy of Alaska (born in Pennsylvania), Doug Ducey of Arizona (born in Ohio), Ned Lamont of Connecticut (born in Washington, D.C.), J. B. Pritzker of Illinois (born in California), Laura Kelly of Kansas (born in New York), Larry Hogan of Maryland (born in Washington, D.C.), Charlie Baker of Massachusetts (born in New York), Tim Walz of Minnesota (born in Nebraska), Greg Gianforte of Montana (born in California), Steve Sisolak of Nevada (born in Wisconsin), Phil Murphy of New Jersey (born in Massachusetts), Kevin Stitt of Oklahoma (born in Florida), Kate Brown of Oregon (born in Spain), and Mark Gordon (politician), Mark Gordon of Wyoming (born in New York). State constitutions have varying requirements for the length of citizenship and residency of the governor but unlike the President, state governors do not need to be Natural-born-citizen clause, natural-born citizens. There is some ambiguity in some state constitutions if a governor must be a citizen or just a resident.


Physical disability

Two legally blind governors have served: Bob C. Riley, who was acting governor of Arkansas for eleven days in January 1975, and David Paterson, who was governor of New York from 2008 until 2010. The current governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, has been Paraplegia, paraplegic since an accident in 1984; he has used a wheelchair ever since. Governor of New York Franklin D. Roosevelt was paraplegic; he later became the first wheelchair-using president. Governor of Alabama George Wallace was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in 1972. He never walked again.


Salary

The average salary of a state governor in 2009 was $124,398. The highest salary currently being accepted is that of
New York New York most commonly refers to: * New York City, the most populous city in the United States, located in the state of New York * New York (state), a state in the northeastern United States New York may also refer to: Film and television * New ...
Governor Kathy Hochul at $225,000. The lowest salaries are those of Maine Governor Janet Mills and Pedro Pierluisi of Puerto Rico at $70,000 each. There have been several instances where the governor of a state has either refused their salary in its entirety or instead only taken $1.00 per year. Alabama Governor Robert J. Bentley refused his yearly salary of $119,950.00 until the state reached full employment. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder took a $1.00 yearly salary. Texas Governor Greg Abbott has returned his salary to the state during each year he has held office. During his tenure as Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger also did not accept his salary of $170,000 per year. However, several governors instead have decided to take a reduction in their salary instead of refusing it entirely. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo took a 5 percent reduction in his salary in 2015, and Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear reduced his salary by 10 percent during the same year. Only eight states (Massachusetts, California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia) currently offer their governors a higher salary than the $174,000 paid to members of Congress. In many states, the governor is not the highest-paid state employee; most often, that distinction is held by the head College football, football or men's basketball coach at a major state university.


Gubernatorial election timeline

All states except Louisiana hold gubernatorial elections on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November. The earliest possible date for the election is therefore November 2 (if that date falls on a Tuesday), and the latest possible date is November 8 (if November 1 falls on a Tuesday). Louisiana holds its gubernatorial primary on the third or fourth Saturday of October and the general election (commonly referred to as the runoff within the state) on the third Saturday of November, but the general election is cancelled if one candidate wins the primary outright (see primary section below). * Two states hold their gubernatorial elections every even numbered year. Recent years are 2010 United States gubernatorial elections, 2010, 2012 United States gubernatorial elections, 2012, 2014 United States gubernatorial elections, 2014, 2016 United States gubernatorial elections, 2016, 2018 United States gubernatorial elections, 2018, and 2020 United States gubernatorial elections, 2020. :New Hampshire and Vermont The other 48 states hold gubernatorial elections every four years. * Thirty-four states and three territories hold their gubernatorial elections during a midterm election year. Washington D.C. also holds their mayoral election during a midterm election year. Recent years are 2002 United States gubernatorial elections, 2002, 2006 United States gubernatorial elections, 2006, 2010 United States gubernatorial elections, 2010, 2014 United States gubernatorial elections, 2014, and 2018 United States gubernatorial elections, 2018. :Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, and Washington DC. * Nine states and two territories hold their gubernatorial elections during a presidential election year. (although Puerto Rico and American Samoa do not hold an election for president). Recent years are 2004 United States gubernatorial elections, 2004, 2008 United States gubernatorial elections, 2008, 2012 United States gubernatorial elections, 2012, 2016 United States gubernatorial elections, 2016, and 2020 United States gubernatorial elections, 2020. :Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Utah, Washington, West Virginia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. * Three states hold their gubernatorial elections the year before a presidential election year. Recent years are 2007 United States gubernatorial elections, 2007, 2011 United States gubernatorial elections, 2011, 2015 United States gubernatorial elections, 2015, and 2019 United States gubernatorial elections, 2019. :Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi * Two states hold their gubernatorial elections the year after a presidential election year. Recent years are 2005 United States gubernatorial elections, 2005, 2009 United States gubernatorial elections, 2009, 2013 United States gubernatorial elections, 2013, 2017 United States gubernatorial elections, 2017, and 2021 United States gubernatorial elections, 2021. :New Jersey and Virginia


Gubernatorial primaries

All states except for California, Louisiana, and Washington hold primaries in which each political party holds a primary election, and the winner of the primary election moves on to compete in a general election. In California, Louisiana, and Washington, all the candidates run in a blanket primary against each other. Regardless of political party, the top two candidates move on to the general election. In Louisiana, the general election occurs between the top two candidates if no candidate obtains more than 50% of the votes cast, and is cancelled if one of the candidates receives more than 50%. In California and Washington, the top two vote getters proceed to the general election regardless of how many votes the top vote getter received in the primary, and California prohibits Write-in candidate, write-in candidates from competing in the general election.


Comparison with other U.S. general elections


Term limits

In most states, governors can serve two four-year terms.


Relationship with lieutenant governor

The type of relationship between the governor and the lieutenant governor greatly varies by state. In some states the governor and lieutenant governor are completely independent of each other, while in others the governor gets to choose (prior to the election) who would be his or her lieutenant governor. * Five states List of current United States lieutenant governors#States which do not have lieutenant governors, do not have a lieutenant governor. In those states, a different State constitutional officer, constitutional officer assumes the office of the governor should there be a vacancy in the office. Those states are Arizona, Oregon and Wyoming where the Secretary of State is next in line, and Maine and New Hampshire, where the President of the Senate is next in line. * Seventeen states have separate elections for the governor and the lieutenant governor, which may lead to the governor and the lieutenant governor being from different parties. Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington. * Two states have the State Senate appoint the lieutenant governor, which may mean that the governor and the lieutenant governor may be from different parties. Those states are Tennessee and West Virginia. * Eight states have the governor and lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket, but the governor does not get to choose his/her running mate. In those states, the primaries for governor and lieutenant governor are held separately, and the winners run together as a joint ticket in the general election. The governor and lieutenant governor would therefore be from the same party, but not necessarily political allies. Those states are Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. * Eighteen states have the governor and lieutenant governor run together on the same ticket similar to the President and Vice President of the United States, where a candidate for governor selects a would-be lieutenant governor. Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and Utah have gubernatorial candidates pick their running mates before the primaries, while in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Carolina, and South Dakota, the running mate is chosen after the primary. The latter system allows the nominee to potentially select a defeated primary competitor.


Constitutional gubernatorial qualifications by state

With the notable exception of Kansas, each of the states specifies in its
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...
its qualifications for Governor.


See also

* The Flags of governors of the U.S. states, flags and Seals of governors of the U.S. states, seals of governors of the U.S. states * Governor and lieutenant governor (non-U.S.) * List of female governors in the United States * List of minority governors and lieutenant governors in the United States * List of current United States governors * List of U.S. state governors born outside the United States * List of current state governors in Mexico, Mexican state governors * Premier (Canada) similar position of provincial/territorial government in Canada * State constitution (United States) * State constitutional officer * State legislature (United States)


Footnotes


References


External links


The Green Papers: Constitutions of the statesThe Green Papers: State constitutions, an explanationThe Green Papers: Links to state constitutionsCitings of Religious Influence in First State Constitutions
{{USStateLists Government occupations Gubernatorial titles State government in the United States State governors of the United States,