Governor of Oklahoma
|Office website:||Official Link|
|2012 FY Budget:||$2,421,000|
|Term limits:||2 terms|
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||Oklahoma Constitution, Article IV, Section 2|
|Assumed office:||January 10, 2011|
|Next election:||November 4, 2014|
|Last election:||November 2, 2010|
|Other Oklahoma Executive Offices|
|Governor • Lieutenant Governor • Secretary of State • Attorney General • Treasurer • Auditor • Superintendent of Education • Agriculture Commissioner • Insurance Commissioner • Natural Resources Commissioner • Labor Commissioner • Public Service Commission|
The office was created in 1907 when Oklahoma was officially admitted to the United States as the 46th state.
Under Article VI, Section 2:
The Supreme Executive power shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate, who shall be styled "The Governor of the State of Oklahoma.".
| 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010 |
Lists of candidates
|Current Lt. Governors|
|Lt. Governor Elections|
|2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010|
A candidate for the governorship must be:
- a citizen of the United States
- at least 31 years old
- a resident of Oklahoma for at least 10 years
Under Section Four in Article VI of the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor serves a four year term in office beginning on the second Monday in January. Also, the same Section provides that no man may hold the office of governor for more than two second terms consecutively. It intially made no reference to limits to total number of term held, prior to the 2010 midterm elections, when voters approved a lifetime term limits of two four-year terms.
Oklahoma elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Oklahoma, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the second Monday in the January following an election. Thus, January 10, 2011 and January 12, 2015 are inaugural days.
Gubernatorial elections are held every four years. The governor of Oklahoma is elected directly by the voters of Oklahoma. After all votes are collected, the Legislature of Oklahoma shall convene in the hall of the state House of Representatives and the Speaker of the House of Representatives announce the results of the elections in the presence of a majority of each branch of the Legislature.
The persons having the highest number of votes for the office of the governor shall be declared duly elected. However, in case two or more shall have an equal and the highest number of votes for the office of governor, the Legislature shall, by joint ballot, choose one of the said persons having an equal and the highest number of votes for the office of governor.
- See also: States with gubernatorial term limits
Oklahoma governors are restricted to 8 years in office during their lifetime.
|No person shall be eligible to serve as Governor for a period of time in excess of eight (8) years. Such years need not be consecutive. Any years served by a person serving as Governor for less than full term to fill a vacancy in such office shall not be included in eight-year limitation set forth herein.|
Oath of Office
"I, ........., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as Governor of the State of Oklahoma to the best of my ability."
Creation and history
Before statehood in 1907, modern day Oklahoma was composed of the Oklahoma and Indian Territories. While Indian Territory remained under the semi-independence of the Indian nations, Oklahoma Territory was organized territory under the supervision of the United States Congress. Within the Territory, a tripartite government existed, including a Territorial Assembly, a Territorial Supreme Court, and a Territorial governor.
The executive branch of the territory’s government was headed by the governor of Oklahoma Territory. The governor was appointed by the President of the United States to serve a four year term. Despite a set term, the governor served at the pleasure of the President. The President could remove the governor from office at any moment.
The governor was the head of the Government of the Territory. He had the power to veto legislation proposed by the Territorial Legislature and the power to appoint member to his cabinet, who in turn had to be ratified by the Legislature. The governor had the power to appoint Justices to the Territory’s Supreme Court. The governor was responsible to the President on addressing issues in the territory and served as the representative as the federal government of the United States. He was also the Commander in Chief of the Territory’s militia.
After the Oklahoma Constitution was written and accepted in 1907, Oklahoma and Indian Territories was joined as the State of Oklahoma. The office of Territorial governor was replaced by the governor of Oklahoma. The new office possessed many of the Territorial governor’s powers and similar responsibilities. However, the governor was designed with many restrictions, limits, and Legislative and Judicial oversight. This was done under the “weak governor system” to not allow the abuse of power that had occurred under the Territorial government.
After the first governor Charles N. Haskell left office in 1911, the executive branch saw a vast reduction in its powers. Governor Haskell, consider the father of the Oklahoma Constitution, knew the office inside and out. This allowed him to amass a great deal of executive power and influence over every aspect of state government. However, in the twenty years after Haskell, the Legislature drained the governor of his powers and severely weakened the office. It was not until William H. Murray, another of the Constitution’s authors, in 1935 did the governorship get back its powers.
As Oklahoma grew and the state government expanded, the governor became gradually more powerful. As more agencies were introduced, the governor’s appointment power extended to them all, granting him greater indirect influence over the government. Also, initially the governor was not eligible to immediately succeed himself after being elected. It was not until 1975 did Oklahomans amend the Constitution to allow the governor to serve two consecutive terms.
In 1986, the governorship saw its greatest gain in power since the time of Haskell. With the institution of the Executive Branch Reform Act, the governor was given greater administrative power over all of Oklahoma’s agencies through the Oklahoma State Cabinet. This allowed the governor’s executive orders to be take effect faster and carry greater force throughout the state.
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992-2013, in Oklahoma there were Democratic governors in office for 11 years while there were Republican governors in office for 11 years, including the last three. Oklahoma was under Republican trifectas for the last three years of the study period.
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 have divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
- See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled
Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article VI, Sections 15 and 16.
In case of impeachment of the governor, or of his death, failure to qualify, resignation, removal from the State, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office, the said office, with its compensation, shall devolve upon the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma for the residue of the term or until the disability shall be removed.
Emergency Interim Successor
If, for any reason, the governor is unable to exercise his powers and discharge the duties of his office and the Lieutenant Governor, President pro tempore of the Senate, and Speaker of the House are unable to act as governor, then the next official in the line of succession becomes the emergency interim successor. As the emergency interim successor to the governor, the officer may exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor until a new governor is elected or until the disability is removed from the governor or higher official. In no event, however, shall the emergency interim successor serve as governor.
The authority of an emergency interim successor to the governor may only act after a man-made or natural emergency or disaster has occurred in the United States. The Oklahoma Legislature, by concurrent resolution, may, at any time, terminate the authority of any emergency interim successor to exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor.
Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma. The governor is the ex officio Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard when not called into federal use.
Despite being an executive branch official, the governor also possesses legislative and judicial powers. The governor's responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the Oklahoma Legislature, submitting
The governor, according to the Oklahoma Constitution, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The governor is vested with "supreme executive power" as the state's "Chief Magistrate" and acts as head of the Executive department of Oklahoma, granting him the ability to issue executive orders which are binding through out the State of Oklahoma. The governor is the "conservator of the peace throughout the State," making him the chief peace officer in the state. In his position as chief peace officer, the Governor is granted command over all state and local law enforcement agencies. In the event that regular law enforcement is unable to execute the law, the Governor, acting as Commander-in-Chief of Oklahoma’s militia, may call out the Oklahoma National Guard to "execute the laws, protect the public health, suppress insurrection, and repel invasion." The governor is assisted in managing the military of Oklahoma by the Adjutant General of Oklahoma, whom is appointed by the governor.
The governor has the power to commission all officers not otherwise commissioned by the law of Oklahoma and is granted the power of appointment. When any office at the state level becomes vacant for any reason, the Governor, unless otherwise provided by law, has the power to appoint a person to fill such vacancy, who shall continue in office until a successor shall have been elected or appointed according to the law of Oklahoma. This power extends to all federal representatives of Oklahoma, including United States House of Representatives and United States Senate, in which case the Governor calls for special elections to fill the remainder of the term. In the case of Senators, the Governor is empowered to immediately appoint someone to temporarily fill the vacant Senate seat until a special election can be held.
Within the Executive branch of Oklahoma government, the governor is assisted by the lieutenant governor, the secretary of state, the attorney general, the State Treasurer, among others. While all the other high level executive offices are elected directly by the people of Oklahoma, the secretary of state is not. The secretary of state is appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate for a term of four years to run concurrently with the term of the governor. Due to the large number of State agencies, the governor is assisted in running the government through the use of the Oklahoma State Cabinet, which the governor is allowed to organize to best serve him. Through the State Cabinet, the governor can address the assembled heads of Oklahoma's executive branch departments which oversee all of Oklahoma's agencies. Each department is headed by a Secretary appointed by the Governor and is responsible for carrying out his executive orders throughout their department.
The governor is an ex officio chairman of many state commissions and committees, such as the Oklahoma Commissioners of Land Office, the Oklahoma Board of Education, and the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. While not a member, the Governor has the power to appoint all or some of the members of most of the executive commissions and state commissions with the advice and consent of the Oklahoma State Senate, such as the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.
The governor is also responsible for preparing the government budget of Oklahoma for the next fiscal year, although the legislature must approve it.
Like the President of the United States, the Governor plays a major role in the legislative process, even though Legislative power is vested in the Oklahoma Legislature. Every bill which that is passed by both the Oklahoma State Senate and Oklahoma House of Representatives, and every resolution requiring the assent of both chambers of the legislature, must, before it becomes a law, be presented to the Governor. The Governor may choose to sign it or veto it and send it back to the legislature. The Governor’s veto can only be overridden by a two-thirds approval vote from each house.
The Governor’s power over appropriation bills is greater than that of normal bills. As with normal bills, it must be presented to the Governor for his approval. If he disapproves of any part of the bill, he may send that part of the bill back to the legislature. However, the part of which he approves becomes law. Thus, the Governor is granted the power of the line-item veto. Any item, or items, so disapproved by the Governor in this manner become void, unless the Legislature re-passes them by a two-thirds vote.
Much of the legislation dealt with by the Legislature is drafted at the initiative of the Governor or his staff. In annual and special messages to the Legislature, the Governor may propose legislation he believes is necessary. The most important of these is the annual State of the State Address. Before a joint session of the Legislature, the Governor outlines the status of the state and his legislative proposals for the upcoming year. Also, beyond the official role as Chief Legislature, the Governor is primarily in a position to influence public opinion and thereby to influence the course of legislation in the Legislature.
The Governor has the power to convoke the legislature, or the Senate only, on extraordinary occasions. At extraordinary sessions, no subject shall be acted upon, except such as the Governor may recommend for consideration. When ever a vacancy occurs within the legislature, the Governor shall issue a writ of election to fill such vacancies. In case of a disagreement between the two houses of the legislature, at a regular or special session, the Governor may adjourn them to such time as he shall deem proper, not beyond the day of the next stated meeting of the legislature. He may convoke the Legislature at or adjourn it to another place, when, in his opinion, the public safety or welfare, or the safety or health of the members require it. However, such a change or adjournment shall be concurred in by a two-thirds vote of all the members of each branch of the legislature.
The governor also plays an active role within the judicial branch of Oklahoma government. Oklahoma has a Judicial Nominating Commission consisting of thirteen members that review all potential Justices and Judges of Oklahoma's appellate courts, such as the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and review them to determine if they qualify to hold their respective positions. Of these thirteen members, the Governor appoints six without the consent of the legislature. All of the governor's appointments serve for a term of six years each; the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the appointments become vacant every two years.
In the event of a vacancy upon the Supreme Court or on the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Judicial Nominating Committee shall choose and submit to the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court three nominees, each of whom has previously notified the Commission in writing that he will serve as a Justice if appointed. Once three potential Justices or Judges are approved by the Judicial Nominating Committee, the Governor appoints one to serve on the Court. If the governor fails to do appoint a nominee within sixty days, the Chief Justice of Oklahoma shall appoint one of the nominees. After the Justice's or Judge's first six years in office, they must stand for retainment by the people of Oklahoma for another six year term.
The governor also possess the power to grant commutations, pardons and paroles for all offenses, except cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as he may deem proper, subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law. However, the governor shall not have the power to grant paroles if a convict has been sentenced to death or sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In order to grant a pardon to an individual, he must submit the name of the individual to a Parole and Pardons Board composed of five members, three of which are appointed by the governor at the beginning of his term in office to serve a term that coincides with his own. After reviewing the applicant for clemency, and a favorable vote from the majority, the Board may empower the governor to make such acts of clemency as he deems necessary.
The governor, however, shall have power to grant after conviction, reprieves, or a leave of absence not to exceed sixty days, without the action of the Board. He shall communicate to the Legislature, at each regular session, each case of reprieve, commutation, parole or pardon, granted, stating the name of the convict, the crime of which he was convicted, the date and place of conviction, and the date of commutation, pardon, parole and reprieve
The governor, as Oklahoma’s head of state, serves as the chief representative of Oklahoma to the United States and to the world. All deals between Oklahoma and any foreign power (including other states and the United States) are negotiated by the governor. This is reflecting the governor's position as the spokesman for the state and the state’s interests to other state and world leaders. However, the governor may not make treaties with other nations, as this is prevented by the United States Constitution.
In discharging his duty as chief spokesman, the governor may be required to testify before the United States Congress or meet with the U.S. President to address national issues that may affect the state. Also, it is the governor’s responsibility to promote Oklahoma’s industries to the world economy as the spokesman for industrial development within the state. Along with those responsibilities comes the role of chief promoter of Oklahoma’s goods and services to foreign consumers.
The governor also plays a significant role in national politics. As the representative of Oklahoma, the governor heads, on a state level, the political party that he may belong to. In this position, the governor serves as the state’s leader in selecting a party candidate to run for the office of President. Additionally, as Oklahoma’s Head of State, the governor is Oklahoma to rest of the world. The governor may travel through the country to promote Oklahoma in a general interest or travel abroad to serve as proponent of America’s interests.
In the event that a natural or man-made emergency occurs or is anticipated in the immediate future, the governor’s gains several emergency powers to better respond to the emergency and combat the threat. Either the governor through executive order or the Oklahoma Legislature through concurrent resolution may declare a state of emergency. Once declared, the governor may exercise his additional emergency powers. To assist the governor in fulfilling his emergency power, the governor may establish such offices, boards, agencies, or positions as he may deem necessary to carry his orders into effect.
When carrying out the functions of his emergency powers, the governor is immune from civilly liable for any loss or injury resulting from any decision, determination, order or action in the performance of his assigned duties and responsibilities during a stated emergency. However, this immunity does not apply when such loss or injury is caused by the gross negligence, or willfully and unnecessarily act by the governor.
The governor, through executive order, or the legislature, through concurrent resolution, may declare an end to the state of emergency and suspend the governor's emergency powers.
In non-emergency situations, the governor is responsible for preparing and annually updating a comprehensive plan and program for emergency management of the state to be known as the Emergency Operations Plan (EOP). The EOP serves as a guide for the governor to following in protecting the state and its citizens during any emergency. The EOP is required to be integrated into and coordinated with the plans of the federal government and of other states to the fullest possible extent, and to coordinate the preparation of plans and programs for emergency management by the political subdivisions of the state.
To prepare for all potential emergencies, the governor may procure supplies and equipment in accordance with the EOP. These supplies may be used to institute emergency management training and public information programs. In taking preparatory steps, the governor may active any or all parts of the emergency management organization in advance to ensure adequate training and equipment to respond in times of need.
In addition to the prevention measures established by the state and local emergency management plans, the governor shall consider on a continuing basis steps that could be taken to mitigate the harmful consequences of emergencies to the state. At the governor's direction, state agencies charged with responsibilities involved in emergency management shall make studies of matters related to potential responses for limiting the effects of emergencies. The governor, from time to time, shall make such recommendations to the Legislature, to political subdivisions and to other appropriate public and private entities as may facilitate measures to prevent or lessen the effects of emergencies.
Upon activating the EOP, the governor assumes direct regulatory control over all essential resources of the state. It will then be the responsibility of the governor to determine the priorities of such resources and allocate them as the governor may deem necessary. These resources include, but are not limited to, food, manpower, health and health manpower, water, transportation, economic stabilization, electric power, petroleum, gas, and solid fuel, industrial production, construction and housing.
In order to ensuring security, the governor gains vast police power. To enforce all laws, rules and regulations relating to emergency management, the governor assumes direct operational control of any or all emergency management forces of the state, including the Oklahoma National Guard, state police agencies, as well as county sheriff's and local police departments. These emergency police powers extend to providing for the evacuation of all or part of the state’s population from any affected or threatened area or areas within the state, regulating the conduct of civilians and the movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and regulating public meetings and gatherings. The governor is responsible for providing for the care of all those regulated by his orders or forced to evacuate.
During a state of emergency, the governor is authorized to utilize the services, equipment, supplies and facilities of all departments, offices and agencies of the state to the maximum extent practicable. All state, county, and local officers and personnel must cooperate with the governor in emergency management upon his direction. Willful failure to obey any order, rule or regulation issued by the governor in this manner may be removed from office by the governor after the officer has had the charges serviced to them and an opportunity to defend themselves. Pending the presentation of charges, the Governor may suspend such officers for a period not to exceed thirty days. Any vacancy resulting from removal or suspension shall be filled by the governor until it is filled as provided by state law.
In managing the emergency, the governor is fully authorized to cooperate with the federal government, with other states, and with private agencies in all matters pertaining to the emergency management of the state and of the nation.
The budget for the Governor's office in Fiscal Year 2012 was $2,421,000.
- See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries
As of 2010, the Governor of Oklahoma is paid $147,000 a year, the 17th highest gubernatorial salary in America.
State Capitol Building
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
- Governor Mary Fallin
- Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma
- Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb
- Oklahoma Attorney General
- Oklahoma Secretary of State
State of Oklahoma
Oklahoma City (capital)
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