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Governor of Washington

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Washington Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2011-2013 FY Budget:  $12,105,000
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Washington Constitution, Article III, Section 2
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Jay Inslee.jpg
Name:  Jay Inslee
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 16, 2013
Compensation:  $166,891
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other Washington Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of Education• • Agriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commissioner
The Governor of the State of Washington is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch and the highest state office in Washington. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and has no term limit.

As of April 2015, Washington is one of 19 states that is under divided government and is therefore not one of the state government trifectas.

See also: Washington State Legislature, Washington House of Representatives, Washington State Senate

Current officeholder

The 23rd and current governor is Jay Inslee, a Democrat elected in 2012. He succeeded Christine Gregoire (D) on January 16, 2013.


The Constitution of Washington addresses the office of the governor in Article III, the Executive.

Under Article III, Section 2:

The supreme executive power of this state shall be vested in a governor...

Constitutional provisions

The constitutional duties, rights and responsibilities of the Office of the Governor of the State of Washington are primarily laid out in Article III of the Washington State Constitution. Article III has been amended two times since the constitution was approved in 1889. Two of these amendments are relevant to the governor's prerogatives:

Former Washington Governor Dixy Lee Ray's 1977 oath of office, from the Washington State Digital Archives collection of oath documents dating back to 1854.


A candidate for governor must be:

  • a citizen of the United States
  • a qualified elector of the state of Washington


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article III, Section 10 of the state constitution.

Whenever the sitting Governor dies, resigns, is removed or impeached, or is unable to discharge the office, the duties shall devolve upon the Lieutenant Governor. After the Lieutenant Governor, the order of succession is as follows:

If a Governor-elect dies, resigns, declines to take the office, or is disqualified, the Lieutenant Governor-elect shall take office as the Governor. If the Governor-elect is only temporarily unable to take the oath, the Lieutenant Governor-elect serves as Acting Governor until the disability is removed. If both the Governor-elect and the Lieutenant Governor-elect are unable to take the oath, same line of succession listed above applies.

If the Governor dies, resigns, is removed or if the Governor's disability is permanent and more than two years remain in the current term, a special election is held at the next general election, unless the next general election is less than 30 days away, in which case the special election is moved to the following general election.


John Spellman was the last Republican governor of Washington as of 2013.

The governor is responsible for ensuring that the laws of the state are faithfully executed (§ 5) and is responsible for the safety of the state, as he or she serves as commander-in-chief of the Washington Militia (§ 8).

Additionally, the governor has the power to appoint heads of departments, agencies, and institutions. The governor is also responsible for presenting the state budget.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Requiring written information from any state officer any aspect of her duties and office (§ 5)
  • Addressing each session of the legislature on the state of state and making recommendations (§ 6)
  • Granting pardons (§ 9)
  • Remitting fines and forfeitures (§ 11)
  • Vetoing bills, subject to a two-thirds legislative override (§ 12)
  • Filling vacancies in all offices not otherwise provided for, including making recess appointments (§ 13)


Washington state government organizational chart
See also: Washington gubernatorial election, 2012

Washington elects governors in the presidential elections, that is, in leap years. For Washington, 2016, 2020, 2024 and 2028 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for noon on the second Monday in January following the election.

In the event of a tie between two candidates, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to choose among the two highest vote getters.

In the event of a contested election, the legislature shall resolve the issue in the manner set out by law.

Current Governors
Gubernatorial Elections
Current Lt. Governors
Lt. Governor Elections
Breaking news

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Washington governors do not face any term limits.

Partisan composition

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Washington from 1992-2013.

Governor of Washington Partisanship.PNG

Full history


Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for information that describes the divisions (if any exist) of a state executive office. That information for the Governor of Washington has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

State budget

Role in state budget

See also: Washington state budget and finances

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[2][3]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in April.
  2. State agency budget requests are submitted in September.
  3. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Washington State Legislature on or before December 20.
  4. The legislature adopts a budget in April or May. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
  5. The biennial budget cycle begins in July.

Washington is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[3]

The governor is required by statute to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. Though the legislature is not required to pass a balanced budget, state law does forbid expenditures without supporting revenues.[3]

Governor's office budget

The budget for the Governor's Office in Fiscal Year 2011-2013 was $12,105,000.[4]


See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries and Compensation of state executive officers

The governor's salary is addressed in Article III, Section 14 of the Washington Constitution. The constitution initially set the annual salary of the governor at $4,000 but provided for the amount to be raised to a maximum of $6,000 at the discretion of the Washington State Legislature. Since 1986, the governor's salary is determined by the Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials.[5]

In 1948, the voters adopted the 20th constitutional amendment, creating Article 28, Section 1, which authorized the state legislature to establish the compensation received by all elected state officials. Several changes to the procedure, including three more constitutional amendments, followed, the most recent being the 78th amendment or House Joint Resolution 49. Approved voters in the 1986 general election, HJR 49 created the Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials, the independent salary-setting authority that took over the legislature's responsibility of setting the salaries of elected officials across the three branches of the Washington state government.[6][7]


In 2014, the governor received a salary of $166,891, according to the Council of State Governments.[8]


In 2013, the governor's salary remained at $166,891.[9]


In 2012, the governor was paid an estimated $166,891 according to the Council of State Governments.

Historical officeholders

There have been 23 governors of Washington since 1889. Of the 23 officeholders, 12 were Republican, 10 were Democrats, and one was a Populist/Democrat.[10]


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Washington
Partisan breakdown of the Washington governorship from 1992-2013

Throughout every year from 1992-2013 there were Democratic governors in office for Washington. Washington is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

Across the country, there were 493 years of Democratic governors (44.82%) and 586 years of Republican governors (53.27%) from 1992-2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Washington, the Washington State Senate and the Washington House of Representatives from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of Washington state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Washington state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the course of the study, Washington had a number of Democratic trifectas. The state experienced both high and low rankings during the years with Democratic trifectas. Its highest ranking overall, finishing 8th, occurred in 1998 during a divided government.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the Washington government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Washington + State + Governor

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Governor of Washington News Feed

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Contact information


Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

Phone: 360-902-4111
Fax: 360-753-4110

See also

External links

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