Governor of Delaware

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Delaware Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $2,675,600
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Name:  Jack Markell
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 20, 2009
Compensation:  $171,000
Next election:  November 8, 2016
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other Delaware Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSecretary of EducationAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryLabor SecretaryPublic Service Commission
The Governor of the State of Delaware is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch, and the highest state office in Delaware. The governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms.

As of April 2015, Delaware is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.

See also: Delaware House of Representatives
Delaware State Senate

Current officeholder

The 73rd and current Governor of Delaware is Democrat Jack Markell, who was first elected in 2008 and took office on January 20, 2009. Markell won re-election in 2012.


The state constitution addresses the office of the governor in Article III, the Executive Department.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 1

The Supreme executive powers of the State shall be vested in a Governor.


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

Under Article III, Section 6 of the Delaware Constitution, the governor must be at 30 years old, a citizen of the United States for at least 12 years on the day of the election, and a resident of Delaware for at least six years on the same date.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 6

The Governor shall be at least thirty years of age, and have been a citizen and inhabitant of the United States twelve years next before the day of his election, and the last six years of that term an inhabitant of this State, unless he shall have been absent on public business of the United States or of this State.


Delaware state government organizational chart
See also: Gubernatorial election cycles by state
See also: Election of governors

Per Article III, Section 2 of the state constitution, Delaware elects governors in presidential election years, that is, leap years. In Delaware, 2016, 2020, 2024 and 2028 are all gubernatorial election years. The winner is inaugurated on the third Tuesday in the January following an election.

In the unlikely event that two candidates receive the exact same vote tally, a joint session of the legislature casts ballots to choose one-third of the members of each chamber to make up a special joint committee, which will in turn cast ballots for the governor. In the even more unlikely event that the legislature is similarly tied, the President of the Senate shall have the deciding vote (§ 4).


See also: Delaware gubernatorial election, 2012

Incumbent Jack Markell (D) defeated challengers Jeff Cragg (R), Jesse McVay (L) and Mark Joseph Perri (G) in the November 6, 2012 general election.

Governor of Delaware General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJack Markell Incumbent 69.3% 275,993
     Republican Jeff Cragg 28.6% 113,793
     Libertarian Jesse McVay 0.9% 3,668
     Green Mark Joseph Perri 1.1% 4,575
Total Votes 398,029
Election Results via Delaware Board of Elections.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Delaware governors are restricted to two terms in office during their lifetime.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 5

The Governor shall hold his office during four years from the third Tuesday in January next ensuing his election; and shall not be elected a third time to said office.

Partisan composition

The chart below shows the partisan breakdown of Delaware State Governors from 1992-2013.
Governor of Delaware Partisanship.PNG


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancies are addressed under Article III, Section 20.

The Lieutenant Governor of Delaware is the first in line to become either the Acting Governor of the Governor in the event that the elected officer is unable or unwilling to discharge the office, either temporarily or permanently. If the lieutenant governorship is likewise vacant, the descending order of succession is the Delaware Secretary of State, the Attorney General of Delaware, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House.

Any of these officers who takes over the governor's duties is understood to have given up her previous office.

In the event of physical or mental inability to discharge the office, the governor may deliver a written statement to the Assembly to that effect. Alternately, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Delaware, the President of the Medical Society of Delaware and the Commissioner of the Department of Mental Health, acting unanimously, may declare the governor unfit. In either of these events, the lieutenant governor becomes the Acting Governor, pending a vote of the Assembly to make the appointment permanent (§ 20).



The Governor of Delaware is, under § 8 of the state constitution, head of the state's military forces, unless said forces have already been called into service by the federal government. He makes, with Senate confirmation, all appointments mandated by the Constitution and also fills all vacancies that do not have an alternate method for filling vacancies prescribed by law (§ 9).

Excepting the Lieutenant Governor of Delaware and members of the General Assembly, the governor may remove any other elected officer for any cause, provide he secures a two-thirds vote in each chamber of the Assembly (§ 13). Periodically, in accordance with § 15, the Governor must address the Assembly, detailing the state of Delaware and making recommendations.

§ 18 gives him a veto over all bills, including appropriations, subject to a three-fifths majority override in both legislative houses.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Making and sign all commissions granted by the state of Delaware (§ 12).
  • Requiring written reports from any member of the Executive on any aspects of the particular officer's job (§ 14).
  • Convening extraordinary sessions of the General Assembly by proclamation, adjourning the Assembly when that body cannot agree on an adjourning date, and convening the Senate for executive business (§ 16).
  • Seeing to the faithful execution of all laws (§ 17).

State budget

Role in state budget

See also: Delaware state budget and finances

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[1][2]

  1. In July and August of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, the governor sends budget instructions to state agencies.
  2. In October, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
  3. Budget hearings are held with the public in November.
  4. On or before February 1, the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature.
  5. The legislature must pass a budget with a simple majority by June 30. The fiscal year then begins in July.

The governor is constitutionally and statutorily required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature must pass a balanced budget, and any budget signed into law by the governor must be balanced.[2]

Delaware is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[2]

Delaware maintains two major governmental funds: the General Fund and the Special Fund. Within the Special Fund, there are four category types: Appropriated Special Funds (ASF), Non-appropriated Special Funds (NSF), Federal Funds and Bond Funds.[3]

Governor's office budget

The budget for the Governor's Office in the Fiscal Year 2013 was $2,675,600.[4]


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

The salaries of Delaware's elected state executives are determined by state law as mandated by the Delaware Constitution. Article III of the state constitution requires that salary changes not take effect until after the current terms of affected offices.

The Delaware State Legislature created the Delaware Compensation Commission in 1984 to determine state executive salaries. This commission consists of six members including two appointees by the governor, one appointee each by the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Delaware State Senate, the current chair of the Delaware Business Roundtable and the director of the state Office of Management and Budget. Commissioners meet every four years to make salary recommendations, which are implemented unless the Delaware State Legislature rejects the entirety of the report. From 1985 to 2013, the commission's report has only been rejected once by legislators, who submitted their own salary increases for executives officials in 1993.[5]


In 2014, the governor received a salary of $171,000, according to the Council of State Governments.[6]


In 2013, the governor's salary remained at $171,000.[7]


In 2012, the governor was paid an estimated $171,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


In 2010, the governor was paid $171,000 a year, the 23rd highest gubernatorial salary in America.


The Delaware Constitution of 1776 provided for the first executives of the independent state of Delaware. They were known as "presidents," rather than "governors," as they were to preside rather than govern. In keeping with the general reaction to the perceived excessive executive authority of the British, the Delaware General Assembly dominated the government. Accordingly, state legislators elected the president and their legislation became law with or without his approval. Legislation was never subject to any possibility of a veto. Indeed, the state constitution forced the presidents to share what authority as they had with a four person Privy Council, also appointed by the General Assembly. The council was required to approve all appointments and other decisions of the president in order for them to become law.

Upon the passage of the Delaware Constitution of 1792, the office was renamed, "governor," to be elected by direct popular vote, and the Privy Council was abolished. At first, governors served for a term of three years, but beginning with the election of 1832 they have been elected to terms of four years. Since 1896 they have been eligible for re-election, but only for one term. They have been chosen in the same general election as the U.S. President since 1896, and take office the third Tuesday of the following January.

Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, Delaware had Democratic governors in office for the last 21 years while there was a Republican governor in office only for the first year. Delaware is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final five years of the study, Delaware was under Democratic trifectas.

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 Delaware, the Delaware State Senate and the Delaware House of Representatives from 1992-2013.

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

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Delaware 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. For twelve out of the twenty years observed during the study, Delaware ranked in the top-10 of the SQLI ranking. The state dropped out of the top-10 for a period between 1996 and 1999, hitting the rank of 16th before climbing back into the top-10 for eight more years. It again dropped out of the top-10 in 2008 and has remained out of the top rankings since then. Delaware has never had a Republican trifecta, but has had a Democratic trifecta since 2009. In the state’s longest period of divided government, there was a Democratic governor, a Democratic state senate and a Republican state house. Delaware achieved its highest SQLI ranking (3rd) in 2003 and 2004 under divided government, and its lowest ranking (20th) in 2012 under a Democratic trifecta.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 16.75
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with divided government: 7.94
Chart displaying the partisanship of Delaware government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Historical officeholders

From 1777-2011, Delaware has had 73 governors. Of those, 66 have served since Delaware joined the Union in 1787.[8]

# Name Term Party
1 Thomas Collins October 28, 1786-March 29, 1789 No party
2 John (Jehu) Davis March 29, 1789-June 2, 1789 No party
3 Joshua Clayton Federalist
4 Gunning Bedford, Sr. January 19, 1796-September 28, 1797 Federalist
5 Daniel Rogers September 28, 1797-January 15, 1799 Federalist
6 Richard Bassett January 15, 1799-February 20, 1801 Federalist
7 James Sykes March 4, 1801-January 19, 1802 Federalist
8 David Hall January 19, 1802-January 15, 1805 Democratic-Republican
9 Nathaniel Mitchell January 15, 1805-January 19, 1808 Federalist
10 George Truitt January 19, 1808-January 15, 1811 Federalist
11 Joseph Haslet January 15, 1811-January 18, 1814 Democratic-Republican
12 Daniel Rodney January 18, 1814-January 21, 1817 Federalist
13 John Clark January 21, 1817-January 15, 1820 Federalist
- Henry Molleston Died before taking office
14 Jacob Stout January 18, 1820-January 16, 1821
15 John Collins January 16, 1821-April 16, 1822 Democratic-Republican
16 Caleb Rodney April 23, 1822-January 21, 1823
17 Joseph Haslet January 21, 1823-June 20, 1823 Democratic -Republican
18 Charles Thomas June 24, 1823-January 20, 1824 Democratic-Republican
19 Samuel Paynter January 20, 1824-January 16, 1827
20 Charles Polk January 16, 1827-January 19, 1830
21 David Hazzard January 19, 1830-January 15, 1833 National Republican
22 Caleb Bennett January 15, 1833-July 11, 1836 Democratic
23 Charles Polk July 11, 1836-January 17, 1837 Whig
24 Cornelius P. Comegys January 17, 1837-January 19, 1841 Whig
25 William B. Cooper January 19, 1841-January 21, 1845 Whig
26 Thomas Stockton January 21, 1845-March 2, 1846 Whig
27 Joseph Maull March 2, 1846-May 3, 1846 Whig
28 William Temple May 6, 1846-January 19, 1847 Whig
29 William Tharp January 19, 1847-January 21, 1851 Democratic
30 William H.H. Ross January 21, 1851-January 16, 1855 Democratic
31 Peter F. Causey January 16, 1855-January 18, 1859 American
32 William Burton January 18, 1859-January 20, 1863 Democratic
33 William Cannon January 20, 1863-March 1, 1865 Republican
34 Gove Saulsbury March 1, 1865-January 17, 1871 Democratic
35 James Ponder January 17, 1871-January 19, 1875 Democratic
36 John P. Cochran January 19, 1875-January 21, 1879 Democratic
37 John Hall January 21, 1879-January 16, 1883 Democratic
38 Charles C. Stockley January 16, 1883-January 18, 1887 Democratic
39 Benjamin T. Biggs January 18, 1887-January 20, 1891 Democratic
40 Robert J. Reynolds January 20, 1891-January 15, 1895 Democratic
41 Joshua H. Marvil January 15, 1895-April 8, 1895 Republican
42 William T. Watson April 8, 1895-January 19, 1897 Democratic
43 Ebe W. Tunnell January 19, 1897-January 15, 1901 Democratic
44 John Hunn January 15, 1901-January 17, 1905 Republican
45 Preston Lea January 17, 1905-January 19, 1909 Republican
46 Simon S. Pennewill January 19, 1909-January 21, 1913 Republican
47 Charles R. Miller January 21, 1913-January 16, 1917 Republican
48 John G. Townsend, Jr. January 16, 1917-January 18, 1921 Republican
49 William D. Denney January 18, 1921-January 20, 1925 Republican
50 Robert P. Robinson January 20, 1925-January 15, 1929 Republican
51 C. Douglass Buck, Sr. January 15, 1929-January 19, 1937 Republican
52 Richard C. McMullen January 19, 1937-January 21, 1941 Democratic
53 Walter W. Bacon January 21, 1941-January 18, 1949 Republican
54 Elbert N. Carvel January 18, 1949-January 20, 1953 Democratic
55 J. Caleb Boggs January 20, 1953-December 30, 1960 Republican
56 David P. Buckson December 30, 1960-January 17, 1961 Republican
57 Elbert N. Carvel January 17, 1961-January 19, 1965 Democratic
58 Charles L. Terry, Jr. January 19, 1965-January 21, 1969 Democratic
59 Russell W. Peterson January 21, 1969-January 16, 1973 Republican
60 Sherman W. Tribbitt January 16, 1973-January 18, 1977 Democratic
61 Pierre S. du Pont, IV January 18, 1977-January 15, 1985 Republican
62 Michael N. Castle January 15, 1985-December 31, 1992 Republican
63 Dale E. Wolf December 31, 1992-January 19, 1993 Republican
64 Thomas R. Carper January 19, 1993-January 3, 2001 Democratic
65 Ruth Ann Minner January 3, 2001-January 20, 2009 Democratic
66 Jack Markell January 20, 2009- Democratic

Gubernatorial residence

Governors of Delaware have an official residence at Woodburn, a two story Georgian brick mansion, built by Charles Hillyard, III in 1790 on land that is now located in the capitol city of Dover.

According to local legend, the home has at least one resident ghost, an older gentleman in colonial-era dress. Woodburn is also popularly believed to have been a safe house on the Underground Railroad.

Woodburn was briefly leased to a sitting governor in the 1820s before reverting to a private residence. In 1965, Governor and First Lady Charles L. Terry, Jr. officially secured Woodburn for the state of Delaware. Following Mrs. Terry's refurbishment of the mansion, it became the official gubernatorial residence in 1966.

Woodburn is open to the public, by appointment only, through admission is free.

Recent news

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Contact information


Address: Dover Office
Tatnall Building
William Penn Street, 2nd Fl.
Dover, DE 19901

Telephone: (302) 744-4101
Fax: (302) 739-2775

See also

External links