Governor of Colorado

From Ballotpedia
Revision as of 14:39, 17 June 2011 by Bailey Ludlam (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search
The Governor of the State of Colorado is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Colorado. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms.

Until 1967, the governor and the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado were elected on separate tickets for two-year terms. This was increased to four years in 1967, and in 1986 the constitution was amended to elect the two offices on the same ticket. The term limit was added to the constitution in 1991.

Current officer

See also: Current governors by party affiliation

The 42nd and current governor is John Hickenlooper, a Democrat elected in 2010.

His wife, Helen Thorpe, is the First Lady of Colorado.


The state Constitution addresses the office of the governor in Article IV, the Executive Department.

Under Article IV, Section 2:

The supreme executive power of the state shall be vested in the governor, who shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

Secondarily, under Article II, Section 2:

All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government, of right, originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.


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

Under Article IV, Section 4, all candidates for the governorship must be:

  • at least 30 years old
  • a U.S. citizen
  • a resident of Colorado for at least two years on the day of the election.

Article III, the Distribution of Powers, forbids any officer of the Executive Department form holding any Legislative or Judicial office.

Under Article VII, Section 4, residency is not affected when an individual is out of the state for purposes of civil or military service.

Once in office, the Governor discharges the duties of the office until her successor qualifies or she is removed from office (Article XII, § 1) and primarily "devotes [her] personal attentions to the duties" of her office (Article XII, § 2).

Conviction for "embezzlement of public moneys, bribery, perjury, solicitation of bribery, or subornation of perjury" is a permanent disqualification against holding office in Colorado (Article XII, § 4).

Any civil officer who "solicits, demands, or receives" a bribe forfeits her office and her right to hold any other office in the future, and is liable to criminal penalties (Article XII, § 6).


See also: Gubernatorial election cycles by state

Colorado elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Colorado, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the second Tuesday in the January following an election. Thus, January 11, 2011 and January 13, 2015 are inaugural days.

If two candidates are tied, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to choose the winner among the top two voter getters. If the election is contested, the legislalture shall jointly resolve the manner as prescribed by law.

In early 1905, the previous year's gubernatorial election was formally contested and the legislature did in fact vote to remove the candidate who had been initially declared the winner.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

The position of governor of Colorado has been subject to term limits since 1990, when the Colorado Term Limits Act was approved with 71% of the vote.

Any individual is limited to two terms as governor. Serving more than half of a term as an appointee or as an Acting Governor qualifies as a full term for purposes of applying term limits.

As amended, Article IV, Section 1 reads:

In order to broaden the opportunities for public service and to guard against excessive concentrations of power, no governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state treasurer, or attorney general shall serve more than two consecutive terms in such office...


Colorado is among the 19 states that provides citizens an avenue to recall their Governor. One territorial governor, Edward M. McCook, was removed by petition. Since statehood, though, Colorado has not recalled a governor.

Also, the legislature may impeach the Governor, a privilege they have never exercised.


See also: States with gubernatorial recall provisions

Recalls are governed under Article XXI, Sections 1 through 3

State officials, including the Governor, are subject to recall after the first six months of their term, by filing a petition with the same officer who accepts the nominating petition for the office in question. For example, as nominating petitions for statewide office are filed with the Secretary of State, the petition to recall a statewide officer would also be filed with the Secretary of State.

The petition must have valid signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast for the incumbent in the city, county, or municipality which the targeted incumbent represents. As the Governor is a statewide office, the petition threshold is 25% of all votes cast for governor in the last election.

Currently, that number would be 446,933, or 25% of 1,787,730, the total ballots cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

Additionally, the petition must contain a statement, not exceeding 200 words, stating the grounds for the recall.

Normally, the Governor is the officer charged with calling a recall election. However, if the Governor is the officer being recalled, charge of the recall election devolves to the Lieutenant Governor. The incumbent subject to recall has five days to resign before the presiding officer calls the recall election.

If the petition, once submitted, is insufficient, it may be withdrawn and, within 15 days, amended and refiled. Once determined to be sufficient, a recall petition shall be, along with a certificate, submitted to the Lieutenant Governor, who calls a recall election not less than 30 days and not more than 60 days from the date of the petition's filing. However, if a general election is set within 90 days, the recall election may be combined with the general election.

If the recall fails, the incumbent may not be recalled again for the remainder of his or her term. Additionally, an incumbent who survives a recall is legally entitled to reimbursement of certain expenses from the State Treasury.


See also: Gubernatorial impeachment procedures

Impeachments of civil officers are governed under Article XIII, Sections 1 and 2.

The Colorado House of Representatives is the "sole court of impeachment" and a majority of the House's members must concur to impeach.

If the House does impeach, the Colorado State Senate tries all impeachments, with all Senators required to take an oath or affirmation to be impartial before the trial begins.

If either the Governor or the Lieutenant Governor is being impeached, the Constitution requires the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court be the presiding officer.

The Governor and Lieutenant Governor are liable to impeachment for "high crimes or misdemeanors or malfeasance in office" but, if impeached, the Senate's judgment only extend to removal from office and disqualification to hold further offices. An impeached officer may still be liable for indictment, trial, and punishment.

Oath of office

Civil officers, including the Governor, are required to take an oath under Article XII, Section 8 before they may carry out any functions of their office. Under Article XII, Section 9, officers of the Executive Department file their oath with the Colorado Secretary of State

Specifics of oaths and affirmations are described in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 12, Sections 101-108.


The office of the Governor of Colorado was established on August 1, 1876, the day of Colorado's statehood. The inaugural holder of the office was Republican John Long Routt, for whom Routt County in northwest Colorado is named. Routt was also the last of eight territorial governors.


Until 1967, the governor and the Lieutenant Governor of Colorado were elected on separate tickets for two-year terms. This was increased to four years in 1967, and in 1986 the constitution was amended to elect the two offices on the same ticket. The term limit was added to the constitution in 1991.


See also: Colorado gubernatorial election, 2010
2006 Gubernatorial Results[1]
Candidates Percentage
Bill Ritter (D) 57.0%
Bob Beauprez (R) 40.2%
Dawn Winkler-Kinteder (L) 1.5%
Paul Noel Fiorino (I) 0.7%
Clyde Harkins AC) 0.6%
Edward Noonan (AMI) 0.7%
Total votes 1,558,017
2010 Gubernatorial Results[2]
Candidates Percentage
John Hickenlooper (D) 51.01%
Dan Maes (R) 11.13%
Tom Tancredo (C) 36.43%
Jaimes Brown (L) 0.74%
Jason R. Clark (I) 0.48%
Paul Noel Fiorino (I) 0.19%
(write-ins) >0.01%
Total votes 1,787,730
1998 Gubernatorial Results[3]
Candidates Percentage
Bill Owens (R) 49.1%
Gail Schoettler (D) 48.4%
Sandra D. Johnson (L) 1.7%
Tim Leonard (AC) 0.8%
Total votes 1,321,307
2002 Gubernatorial Results[4]
Candidates Percentage
Bill Owens (R) 62.6%
Rollie Heath (D) 33.6%
Ron Forthofer (G) 2.3%
Ralph Shnelver (L) 1.5%
Total votes 1,412,601


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article IV, Section 13.

If the office of the Governor is vacant, temporarily or permanently, for any reason, the Lieutenant Governor takes over all the duties and responsibilities of the office. Once the lieutenant governor assumes the governorship, as Acting Governor, she will appoint a replacement for the now-empty lieutenant governorship.

If the actual elected Lieutenant Governor is unable to discharge the office or if both the Governor's and Lieutenant Governor's offices are vacant, the position(s) shall be filled by the highest ranking member(s) of the General Assembly who belongs to the same party as the elected officer(s) who vacated her position(s).

In reference to either the Governor or Lieutenant Governor being unfit for office due to physical or mental illness, the office holder may either deliver a written statement to legislature declaring himself no longer able to serve, or the Colorado Supreme Court may hold a hearing to deem the office holder not physically or mentally fit for office.

Additionally, if an appointed governor serves more than half of a four year term, for purposes of applying term limits, he shall be considered to have served a full term.

Should a Governor-elect fail to qualify within the alloted time, the office shall be declared vacant, under Article XII, Section 10.



The Governor is responsible for upholding the Colorado Constitution and for faithfully executing all laws (§ 2). The Governor also acts as Commander in Chief of the state's militia at all times, unless they have been federalized (§ 5).

Under Article II, Sections 21 and 22, Habeas Corpus may only be suspended in times of rebellion or invasion and the state's militia is always subject to civil authority.

The Governor has a veto over all bills, including appropriations, passed by the General Assembly, subject to an override by supermajority (§ 11, 12).

In addition to appointing, with Senate confirmation, all legally mandated offices whose method of election or appointment is not otherwise prescribed, the Governor may remove officers for malfeasance, neglect, or incompetence (§ 6). Whenever any elected office becomes vacant at a time when the Senate is in recess, the Governor may make a recess appointment, provided he presents his nominee to the Senate when next they convene. The Senate may deliberate privately but must vote openly with ayes and noes recorded in the Journal.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Granting pardons for all crimes, save treason. In all pardons and reprieves, she must communicate to the legislature the details of and reasons for the action (§ 7).
  • Requiring written information, given under oath, from all officers and managers of state institutions on the conditions of the offices they oversee (§ 8)
  • Providing details of the expenditures of the governor's office to the legislature (§ 8)
  • Convening extraordinary sessions of the House or the Senate (§ 9), and adjourning the Assembly when its members cannot agree to do so themselves (§ 10)
  • Making vacancy appointments to the any court of records from a list of nominees supplied by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission (Article VI, § 20(1)) and making vacancy appointments to vacant District Attorney offices (Article VI, § 20(4))
  • Declaring a state of emergency and issuing an executive order to move the seat of government, after consultation with the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, the Speaker of the House, and the Attorney General (Article VIII, § 3)
  • Appointing all field, staff, and general military officers and commissioning the officers each company selects (Article XVII, § 3)

Additionally, statutory duties and privileges of the office are described in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 20, Part 1, Section 101-110.

Divisions of the office

Structure of the Governor's Office is partly described in the Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 24, Article 37-38.9.


The Office of the Governor of Colorado currently has 12 political and policy offices within it, in addition to the Governor's Press Office[5]:

  • Boards and Commissions Office
  • Citizens' Advocate Office
  • Office of Workforce Development
  • Office of State Planning and Budgeting
  • Governor's Energy Office
  • Office of Cyber Security
  • Office of Economic Development and International Trade
  • Office of Homeland Security
  • Office of Information Technology
  • Office of Policy and Initiatives
  • Office of Legislative Relations
  • Office of Legal Counsel

Governor's Cabinet

The Cabinet of the Governor of Colorado has 28 officers[6]. It consists of five elected officers, one member of the gubernatorial staff, and 22 gubernatorial appointees:

Office Current Occupant Party
Governor John Hickenlooper Democrat
Lieutenant Governor Joseph A. Garcia Democrat
Secretary of State Scott Gessler Republican
Attorney General John Suthers Republican
Treasurer Walker Stapleton Republican
Chief of Staff to the Governor Roxanne White
Commissioner of Agriculture John A. Salazar
Executive Director of Corrections Tom Clements
Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond
Executive Director of Health Care Policy and Financing Sue Birch
Executive Director of Higher Education Joseph A. Garcia
Executive Director of Human Services Reggie Bicha
Executive Director of Labor and Employment Ellen Golombek
Executive Director of Local Affairs Reeves Brown
Executive Director of Military and Veterans Affairs Major General H. Michael Edwards
Executive Director of Natural Resources Mile King
Executive Director of Personnel and Administration Kathy Nesbitt
Executive Director of Public Health and Environment Dr. Chris Urbina
Executive Director of Public Safety James Davis
Executive Director of Regulatory Agencies Barbara Kelley
Executive Director of Revenue Roxy Huber
Executive Director of Transportation Don Hunt
Chief Information Officer Kristin Russell
Director of the Governor's Energy Office T.J. Deora
Director of State Planning and Budgeting Henry Sobanet
Chief Policy and Political Director Alan Salazar
Director of Homeland Security Larry D. Trujillo
  • Partisan affiliations are provided only for elected officers
  • Cabinet members are listed in descending rank


See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries

The governor's salary is legally fixed and may not be raised or decreased effective during the current term.

As of 2011, the Governor of Colorado is paid $90,000 a year, the 48th highest gubernatorial salary in America.[7]

Gubernatorial residence

See also: Residences of the American governors
The western exposure of the Boettcher Mansion, residence of the Governor and First Family of Colorado.

Properly known as the Boettcher Mansion, the official gubernatorial residence is an early 20th century white marble home, built in the Roman Ionic style and located at East 8th Avenue and Logan Street on Capitol Hill in Denver.

The mansion passed through the ownership of many of Colorado's founding families, having been built by the Cheesemans between 1907-1908, upgraded by the Evans throughout the early 1920s, and finally coming to be owned by the Boettchers. It was offered to the state of Colorado as a gubernatorial residence in 1957, in accordance with the will of Edna Boettcher, and accepted on behalf of the state by Governor Stephen McNichols in 1959.

Many of the furnishings are original to the era when the mansion was a private residence. Of particular note is the Waterford chandelier in the main drawing room, which originally hung in the White House ballroom and was given to Colorado on the occasion of her statehood, in 1876, by President Chester A. Arthur.

The second floor is the private residence of the First Family of Colorado, if they so choose. The lack of both space and privacy has led to several recent governors maintaining their private homes instead. Governor Hickenlooper and Governor Owens both kept their own homes, through Governor Ritter moved into the mansion.

The main floor of the mansion is used for state occasions, is open to the public for tours, and may be rented for private events.

Former officeholders

Colorado has had eight territorial governors and 42 state governors, for a total of 50 chief executives.

State governors

Governor Inaugurated Left Office Method Party
John Hickenlooper January 11, 2011 Elected Democrat
Bill Ritter January 9, 2007 January 11, 2011 Elected Democrat
Bill Owens January 12, 1999 January 9, 2007 Elected Republican
Roy Romer January 13, 1987 January 12, 1999 Elected Democrat
Dick Lamm January 14, 1975 January 13, 1987 Elected Democrat
John David Vanderhoof July 16, 1973 January 14, 1975 Lt. Governor filling unexpired term Republican
John Arthur Love January 8, 1963 July 16, 1973 Elected Republican
Stephen L.R. McNichols January 18, 1957 January 8, 1963 Elected Democrat
Edwin C. Johnson January 11, 1955 January 18, 1957 Elected Democrat
Daniel I.J. Thornton January 9, 1951 January 11, 1955 Elected Republican
Walter Walford Johnson April 15, 1950 January 9, 1951 Lt. Governor filling unexpired termΔ Democrat
William Lee Knous January 14, 1947 April 15, 1950 ElectedΔ Democrat
John Charles Vivian January 12, 1943 January 14, 1947 Elected Republican
Ralph Lawrence Carr January 10, 1939 January 12, 1943 Elected Republican
Teller Ammons January 12, 1937 January 10, 1939 Elected Democrat
Ray Herbert Talbot January 1, 1937 January 12, 1937 Lt. Governor filling unexpired term Democrat
Edwin C. Johnson January 10, 1933 January 1, 1937 Elected Democrat
Billy Adams January 11, 1927 January 10, 1933 Elected Democrat
Clarence Morley January 13, 1925 January 11, 1927 Elected Republican
William Ellery Sweet January 9, 1923 January 13, 1925 Elected Democrat
Oliver Henry Shoup January 14, 1919 January 9, 1923 Elected Republican
Julius Caldeen Gunter January 9, 1917 January 14, 1919 Elected Democrat
George Alfred Carlson January 12, 1915 January 9, 1917 Elected Republican
Elias M. Ammons January 14, 1913 January 12, 1915 Elected Democrat
John F. Shafroth January 12, 1909 January 14, 1913 Elected Democrat
Henry Augustus Buchtel January 8, 1907 January 12, 1909 Elected Republican
Jesse Fuller McDonald March 17, 1905 January 8, 1907 Lt. Governor filling unexpired term Republican
James Hamilton Peabody March 17, 1905 March 17, 1905 Legislative appointee Republican
Alva Adams January 10, 1905 March 17, 1905 Elected Democrat
James Hamilton Peabody January 13, 1903 January 10, 1905 Elected Republican
James Bradley Orman January 8, 1901 January 13, 1903 Elected Democrat
Charles Spalding Thomas January 10, 1899 January 8, 1901 Elected Democrat
Alva Adams January 12, 1897 January 10, 1899 Elected Democrat
Albert Washington McIntire January 8, 1895 January 12, 1897 Elected Republican
Davis Hanson Waite January 10, 1893 January 8, 1895 Elected Populist
John Long Routt January 13, 1891 January 10, 1893 Elected Republican
Job Adams Cooper January 8, 1889 January 13, 1891 Elected Republican
Alva Adams January 11, 1887 January 8, 1889 Elected Democrat
Benjamin Harrison Eaton January 13, 1885 January 11, 1887 Elected Republican
James Benton Grant January 9, 1883 January 13, 1885 Elected Democrat
Frederick Walker Pitkin January 14, 1879 January 9, 1883 Elected Republican
John Long Routt August 1, 1876 January 14, 1879 Incumbent at statehood Republican

 : The 1904 election was rife with fraud. Democrat Alva Adams, who served as the 5th and 10th Governor, was initially declared the winner, sworn in, and took office as the 14th Governor in January of 1905.

On the morning on March 17, 1905, the Republican controlled legislature declared that the election had in fact been "won" by James Hamilton Peabody, the incumbent Adams had "defeated", and declared Peabody the winner, provided he immediately resign the office.

Peabody thus served as the 13th and 15th Governor of Colorado.

Peabody assumed the office, named Jesse Fuller McDonald as his Lieutenant Governor, and promptly communicated his resignation to the Secretary of State, at which point McDonald became the 16th Governor of Colorado.

Colorado is the only state to have had three Governors serve in a single day.

 : Edwin C. Johnson won a U.S. Senate seat in the 1932 elections and resigned his lame duck gubernatorial office 12 days before his successor was inaugurated due to differences between the state and federal inauguration schedules. Johnson's lieutenant, Ray Herbert Talbot, served for 12 days until the scheduled inaugural day, when Governor-elect Teller Ammons was sworn in.

Δ : William Lee Knous resigned to take a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for Colorado.

 : John Arthur Love resigned to become the Director of the Office of Energy Policy.

Territorial governors

Governor Assumed office Left office Appointed by Party
John Long Routt March 29, 1875 August 1, 1876 Ulysses S. Grant Republican
Edward M. McCook June 19, 1874 March 29, 1875 Ulysses S. Grant Republican
Samuel Hitt Elbert April 4, 1873 June 19, 1874 Ulysses S. Grant Republican
Edward M. McCook June 14, 1869 April 4, 1873 Ulysses S. Grant Republican
Alexander Cameron Hunt April 24, 1867 June 14, 1869 Andrew Johnson Republican
Alexander Cummings October 17, 1865 April 24, 1867 Andrew Johnson Republican
John Evans March 26, 1862 October 17, 1865 Abraham Lincoln Republican
William Gilpin March 25, 1861 March 26, 1862 Abraham Lincoln Republican

Contact information

John Hickenlooper, Governor
136 State Capitol
Denver, CO 80203-1792

Phone: (303) 866-2471
Fax: (303) 866-2003

See also

External links