Governor of Alaska

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The Governor of Alaska is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Alaska. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two consecutive terms. The same individual may not be elected governor again until one complete gubernatorial term has passed.

Current officer

The current, and 10th, governor of Alaska is Sean Parnell, a member of the Republican party. Parnell was elected lieutenant governor in 2006 along with Sarah Palin and became the governor upon Palin's resignation on July 26, 2009; he completed her term and ran for the office himself in 2010. In the 2010 midterm election, he won a full term, which he began serving on December 6, 2010.

His wife, Sandra Parnell, is the First Lady of Alaska.


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

Under Article III, Section 1:

The executive power of the State is vested in the governor.


Under Article III, Section 6 of the Constitution, the governor may not hold any Federal office or any state office in Alaska concurrently with his gubernatorial term.

Under Article III, Section 2, the governor must be at least 30 years old, a qualified voter in Alaska, and have been both an American citizen and a resident of Alaska for a minimum of seven years on election day.


Alaska elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Alaska, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for noon on the first Monday in December following the election. Thus, December 6, 2010 and December 1, 2014 are inaugural days.


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article III, Sections 9 to 14.

In the event that the elected Governor is unable to complete her term, the Lieutenant Governor of Alaska succeeds the Governor and has the same full powers as the elected Governor. The Lieutenant Governor also becomes "Acting Governor" at any time when the elected Governor is unable to discharge the office, yet does not vacate the office. If the elected governor is continually unable to discharge the office for six months, the office is deemed vacant and the lieutenant governor succeeds to the office.

In the event that a governor-elect dies, resigns, is disqualified, or otherwise does not take office, the individual elected as lieutenant governor shall become the governor.

At any time that the lieutenant governor takes over as the governor, she or he serves as the governor for the entire remaining term.



The Governor of Alaska is the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Alaska Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.

Many offices, such as that of the Attorney General, which are elected offices in most states, are gubernatorial appointments in Alaska. The governor has wide latitude is searching for a nominee but must seek legislative confirmation of those nominees. The governor also appoints the officers of most state boards and commissions and has the power to make recess appointments when the legislature is not in session.

The number of departments in Alaska's state government is Constitutionally capped at 20; however, the governor may decrease and increase the numbers of departments within that limit. Some reorganization of the government may be done at the governor's discretion. For changes requiring the force of law, the governor issues an Executive Order; the legislature then has 60 session days to reject the change, done by a majority vote of a joint session. Otherwise, the Executive Order stands and takes effect on a day chosen by the governor.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • upholding the faithful execution of all Alaska laws and forcing compliance when needed, either through the courts or by legislative action
  • convening special sessions of the House, the Senate, or both in a Joint Session
  • addressing the legislature at the beginning of each session and at other times he deems necessary, with a description of the current state of Alaska's affairs and with her or his recommendations
  • appointing all general and flag officers of Alaska's armed forces
  • proclaiming martial law for up to 20 days. (A longer declaration requires a majority vote of the joint legislature.)


The governor's pay is legally set and may be changed by the legislature. If the legislature lowers the gubernatorial salary, the pay cut does not take effect until the next gubernatorial term, unless the pay cut applies to all salaried state officers.

As of 2010, the Governor of Alaska is paid $125,000 a year, the 27th highest gubernatorial salary in America.

Contact information

Juneau Office
Alaska State Capitol Building
Third Floor

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, AK 99811-0001
Phone: 907-465-3500
Fax: 907-465-3532

See also

External links