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Governor of California

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California Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2012-2013 FY Budget:  $12,660,000
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  California Constitution, Article 5, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Jerry Brown 1.jpg
Name:  Jerry Brown
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 2011
Compensation:  $173,987
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Last election:  November 2, 2010
Other California Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorControllerSuperintendent of Public InstructionAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryIndustrial Relations DirectorPublic Utilities Commission
The Governor of California is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch, and the highest state office in California. The governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms. The office of governor was first established in 1849, replacing the succession of military governors that had overseen the territory since its annexation the previous year.

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

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

Current officeholder

The 39th and current Governor of California is Jerry Brown, a Democrat, who was elected in November 2010. He took office on January 1, 2011. Brown's term will face re-election in November 2014, and his term will end in January of the following the year.

Brown previously served as the 34th Governor of California, from 1975 to 1983. Because Brown was elected to both of his terms as the 34th governor before a term limits law was passed in 1990, he was eligible to run again in 2010.

Before becoming governor for the first time, Brown served one term as California Secretary of State, and then served one term as state attorney general from 2006 to 2010, before his re-entry into the governorship. Before returning to statewide office, he was mayor of Oakland, CA from 1998 to 2006. Brown also made three unsuccessful runs for President of the United States in 1976, 1980 and 1991, and served as chair of the California Democratic Party from 1989 to 1991. He also founded the Oakland School for the Arts and the Oakland Military Institute and worked as an attorney for the firm of Tuttle and Taylor.[1]


The Constitution of California establishes the office of governor in Article V, the Executive.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 1

The supreme executive power of this State is vested in the Governor.


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

The governor may not hold any other public offices, engage in any lobbying, or accept any honorariums. Additionally, he or she must be a registered voter in California, a resident of the state for at least five years on election day, and an American citizen for at least five years.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 2

[...] The Governor shall be an elector who has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of this State for 5 years immediately preceding the Governor's election. The Governor may not hold other public office.


California state government organizational chart

California elects governors in federal midterm election years, e.g. 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018. The gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the first Monday in the new year following the election. Thus, January 3, 2011 and January 5, 2015 are inaugural days.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 2

The Governor shall be elected every fourth year at the same time and places as members of the Assembly and hold office from the Monday after January 1 following the election until a successor qualifies.

As in several other states, governors of California may be subject to recall elections. To initiate a recall, citizens must submit petitions signed by California voters equal in number to 12% of the last vote for the office of governor. Additionally, petitioners must collect signatures from each of 5 counties equal in number to 1% of the last vote for governor in the county. The last California gubernatorial recall saw Gray Davis removed from office in favor of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

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

California Constitution, Article V, Section 2

No Governor may serve more than 2 terms.

Partisan composition

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


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Article 5, Section 10 of the state constitution requires the Lieutenant Governor of California to assume the office of governor if the incumbent is unable to discharge the office. The legislature sets the rest of the order of precedence for filling vacancies in the office of governor. Disputes over the line of succession are under the sole jurisdiction of the California Supreme Court.



The governor has the power to veto bills from the California State Legislature. The Legislature can override a veto by a two-thirds majority vote in both the Assembly and the Senate. The governor can veto particular items from an appropriations bill while leaving others intact.

Law-enforcement powers include the ability to grant pardons and commute sentences, excepting cases of impeachment, as well as serving as the commander-in-chief of the state militia. In addition to calling the National Guard into active duty, the governor can call the California State Military Reserve to active duty to support the Guard.

The governor also has full membership and voting powers to the Regents of the University of California, the governing board of the University of California system, along with other elected officials, and a majority of members on the Regents of the University of California are appointed by the governor.

Each year, the governor must make a "State of the State" address to the legislature. He may also order reports and information from other state officers.

Unless otherwise provided by law, the governor fills vacancies in all state offices. Specifically, vacancies in the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer, Attorney General, and on the State Board of Equalization are filled by a gubernatorial nominee, with Senate confirmation.


  • Accounting
  • Appointments
  • Constituent Affairs
  • External Affairs
  • Judicial Appointments
  • Legal Affairs
  • Legislative Affairs
  • Operations
  • Personnel
  • Press Secretary
  • Protocol
  • Scheduling
  • Senior Advisors
  • Special Advisor
  • Special Counsel[2]

State budget

Role in state budget

See also: California state budget

The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[3][4]

  1. Budget instructions are sent to state agencies beginning in April.
  2. Agencies submit their budget requests to the governor in September.
  3. Agency hearings are held from September through November.
  4. Public hearings are held from March through June.
  5. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature in January.
  6. The legislature adopts a budget in June. A two-thirds majority is required to pass a budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

California is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[4]

The governor is legally required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature is legally required to adopt a balanced budget.[4]

Governor's office budget

The budget for the California Governor's Office in the 2012-2013 Fiscal Year was $12,660,000.[5]


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


In 2013, the governor's salary remained at $173,987.[6]


In 2010, the governor received compensation in the amount of $173,987.[7] The governor's salary, like that of all other state elected officials, is determined by the California Citizens Compensation Commission on an annual basis. The last time the governor's compensation was changed was 2009, when the office's salary and benefits were cut by 18 percent.

Historical officeholders

There have been 38 Governors of California since 1849. Of the 38 officeholders, 18 were Republican, 12 were Democrat, 2 were Independent Democrat, 1 was Union and 1 was American Know-Nothing. Additionally, four switched parties while in office.[8]

List of Former Officeholders from 1849-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Peter Hardeman Burnett 1849 - 1851 Independent Democrat
2 John McDougal 1851 - 1852 Independent Democrat
3 John Bigler 1852 - 1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
4 John Neely Johnson 1856 - 1858 American Know-Nothing
5 John B. Weller 1858 - 1860 Electiondot.png Democratic
6 Milton Slocum Latham 1860 - 1860 Electiondot.png Democratic
7 John G. Downey 1860 - 1862 Electiondot.png Democratic
8 Amasa Leland Stanford 1862 - 1863 Ends.png Republican
9 Frederick Ferdinand Low 1863 - 1867 Union
10 Henry Huntly Haight 1867 - 1871 Ends.png Republican, Electiondot.png Democratic
11 Newton Booth 1871 - 1875 Ends.png Republican
12 Romualdo Pacheco 1875 - 1875 Ends.png Republican
13 William Irwin 1875 - 1880 Electiondot.png Democratic
14 George Clement Perkins 1880 - 1883 Ends.png Republican
15 George Stoneman 1883 - 1887 Electiondot.png Democratic
16 Washington Bartlett 1887 - 1887 Electiondot.png Democratic
17 Robert Whitney Waterman 1887 - 1891 Ends.png Republican
18 Henry Harrison Markham 1891 - 1895 Ends.png Republican
19 James Herbert Budd 1895 - 1899 Electiondot.png Democratic
20 Henry Tifft Gage 1899 - 1903 Ends.png Republican
21 George Cooper Pardee 1903 - 1907 Progressive, Ends.png Republican
22 James Norris Gillett 1907 - 1911 Ends.png Republican
23 Hiram Warren Johnson 1911 - 1917 Ends.png Republican, Progressive
24 William Dennison Stephens 1917 - 1923 Ends.png Republican
25 Friend William Richardson 1923 - 1927 Ends.png Republican
26 Clement Calhoun Young 1927 - 1931 Ends.png Republican
27 James Rolph 1931 - 1934 Ends.png Republican
28 Frank Finley Merriam 1934 - 1939 Ends.png Republican
29 Culbert L. Olson 1939 - 1943 Electiondot.png Democratic
30 Earl Warren 1943 - 1953 Ends.png Republican
31 Goodwin Jess Knight 1953 - 1959 Ends.png Republican
32 Edmund Gerald Brown 1959 - 1967 Electiondot.png Democratic
33 Ronald Wilson Reagan 1967 - 1975 Electiondot.png Democratic, Ends.png Republican
34 George Deukmejian 1983 - 1991 Ends.png Republican
35 Pete Wilson 1991 - 1999 Ends.png Republican
36 Gray Davis 1999 - 2003 Electiondot.png Democratic
37 Arnold Schwarzenegger 2003 - 2011 Ends.png Republican
38 Jerry Brown 2011- Electiondot.png Democratic

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a google news search for the term California Governor

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

Governor of California News Feed

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Contact information

Physical address:
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: 916-445-2841
Fax: 916-558-3160


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, there were Democratic governors in office for eight years while there were Republican governors in office for 14 years. During the final three years of the study, California 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 California, the California State Senate and the California House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of California state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Arkansas 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. California has never had a Republican trifecta, but did have Democratic trifectas between the years 1999 and 2003 and again after 2010 to the present. California fell steadily in the SQLI ranking until finally reaching the bottom-10 in 2010. The state reached its highest ranking (28th) in 1998 and 1999, first under divided government and then under a Democratic trifecta. The state’s lowest ranking (48th) occurred recently in 2012 under a Democratic trifecta. Except for the years 1995 and 1996, the California legislature has been consistently under Democratic control.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 37.00
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with divided government: 35.21
Chart displaying the partisanship of California government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

See also

External links