Governor of Delaware
Delaware State Executives
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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 will come up for re-election, if he chooses to run, in 2012, and his first term will formally end in 2013.
The Supreme executive powers of the State shall be vested in a Governor.
| 2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010 |
Lists of candidates
|Current Lt. Governors|
|Lt. Governor Elections|
|2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010|
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.
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.
Per Article III, Section 2 of the state constitution, Delaware elects governors in presidential election years, that is, leap years. In Delaware, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 are all gubernatorial election years. The winner is inaugurated on the third Tuesday in the January following an election. Thus, January 15, 2013 and January 17, 2017 are inaugural days.
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: States with gubernatorial term limits
Delaware governors are restricted to two terms in office during their lifetime.
|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.|
- 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 te 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).
- See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries
Under Article III, Section 7, the governor's salary is fixed by law and, if changed, does not take effect during the current term. In 2010, the Governor of Delaware 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.
From 1777-2011, Delaware has had 73 governors.
|#||Name||Took office||Left office||Party|
|1||John McKinly||February 12, 1777||September 3, 1777||No parties|
|2||Thomas McKean||September 22, 1777||October 20, 1777||No parties|
|3||George Read, Sr.||October 20, 1777||March 31, 1778||No parties|
|4||Caesar Rodney||March 31, 1778||November 6, 1781||No parties|
|5||John Dickinson||November 13, 1781||November 4, 1782||No parties|
|6||John Cook||November 4, 1782||February 1, 1783||No parties|
|7||Nicholas Van Dyke, Sr.||February 1, 1783||October 27, 1786||No parties|
|8||Thomas Collins||October 28, 1786||March 29, 1789||No parties|
|9||John (Jehu) Davis||March 29, 1789||June 2, 1789||No parties|
|10||Joshua Clayton||February 1, 1783||October 27, 1786||Federalist|
|11||Gunning Bedford, Sr.||January 19, 1796||September 28, 1797||Federalist|
|12||Daniel Rogers||September 28, 1797||January 15, 1799||Federalist|
|13||Richard Bassett||January 15, 1799||February 20, 1801||Federalist|
|14||James Sykes||March 4, 1801||January 19, 1802||Federalist|
|15||David Hall||January 19, 1802||January 15, 1805||Democratic-Republican|
|16||Nathaniel Mitchell||January 15, 1805||January 19, 1808||Federalist|
|17||George Truitt||January 19, 1808||January 15, 1811||Federalist|
|18||Joseph Haslet||January 15, 1811||January 18, 1814||Democratic-Republican|
|19||Daniel Rodney||January 18, 1814||January 21, 1817||Federalist|
|20||John Clark||January 21, 1817||January 15, 1820||Federalist|
|-||Henry Molleston||Died before taking office||Federalist|
|21||Jacob Stout||January 18, 1820||January 16, 1821||Federalist|
|22||John Collins||January 16, 1821||April 16, 1822||Democratic-Republican|
|23||Caleb Rodney||April 23, 1822||January 21, 1823||Federalist|
|24||Joseph Haslet||January 21, 1823||June 20, 1823||Democratic -Republican|
|25||Charles Thomas||June 24, 1823||January 20, 1824||Democratic-Republican|
|26||Samuel Paynter||January 20, 1824||January 16, 1827||Federalist|
|27||Charles Polk||January 16, 1827||January 19, 1830||Federalist|
|28||David Hazzard||January 19, 1830||January 15, 1833||National Republican|
|29||Caleb Bennett||January 15, 1833||July 11, 1836||Democratic|
|30||Charles Polk||July 11, 1836||January 17, 1837||Whig|
|31||Cornelius P. Comegys||January 17, 1837||January 19, 1841||Whig|
|32||William B. Cooper||January 19, 1841||January 21, 1845||Whig|
|33||Thomas Stockton||January 21, 1845||March 2, 1846||Whig|
|34||Joseph Maull||March 2, 1846||May 3, 1846||Whig|
|35||William Temple||May 6, 1846||January 19, 1847||Whig|
|36||William Tharp||January 19, 1847||January 21, 1851||Democratic|
|37||William H.H. Ross||January 21, 1851||January 16, 1855||Democratic|
|38||Peter F. Causey||January 16, 1855||January 18, 1859||American|
|39||William Burton||January 18, 1859||January 20, 1863||Democratic|
|40||William Cannon||January 20, 1863||March 1, 1865||Republican|
|41||Gove Saulsbury||March 1, 1865||January 17, 1871||Democratic|
|42||James Ponder||January 17, 1871||January 19, 1875||Democratic|
|43||John P. Cochran||January 19, 1875||January 21, 1879||Democratic|
|44||John Hall||January 21, 1879||January 16, 1883||Democratic|
|45||Charles C. Stockley||January 16, 1883||January 18, 1887||Democratic|
|46||Benjamin T. Biggs||January 18, 1887||January 20, 1891||Democratic|
|47||Robert J. Reynolds||January 20, 1891||January 15, 1895||Democratic|
|48||Joshua H. Marvil||January 15, 1895||April 8, 1895||Republican|
|49||William T. Watson||April 8, 1895||January 19, 1897||Democratic|
|50||Ebe W. Tunnell||January 19, 1897||January 15, 1901||Democratic|
|51||John Hunn||January 15, 1901||January 17, 1905||Republican|
|52||Preston Lea||January 17, 1905||January 19, 1909||Republican|
|53||Simon S. Pennewill||January 19, 1909||January 21, 1913||Republican|
|54||Charles R. Miller||January 21, 1913||January 16, 1917||Republican|
|55||John G. Townsend, Jr.||January 16, 1917||January 18, 1921||Republican|
|56||William D. Denney||January 18, 1921||January 20, 1925||Republican|
|57||Robert P. Robinson||January 20, 1925||January 15, 1929||Republican|
|58||C. Douglass Buck, Sr.||January 15, 1929||January 19, 1937||Republican|
|59||Richard C. McMullen||January 19, 1937||January 21, 1941||Democratic|
|60||Walter W. Bacon||January 21, 1941||January 18, 1949||Republican|
|61||Elbert N. Carvel||January 18, 1949||January 20, 1953||Democratic|
|62||J. Caleb Boggs||January 20, 1953||December 30, 1960||Republican|
|63||David P. Buckson||December 30, 1960||January 17, 1961||Republican|
|64||Elbert N. Carvel||January 17, 1961||January 19, 1965||Democratic|
|65||Charles L. Terry, Jr.||January 19, 1965||January 21, 1969||Democratic|
|66||Russell W. Peterson||January 21, 1969||January 16, 1973||Republican|
|67||Sherman W. Tribbitt||January 16, 1973||January 18, 1977||Democratic|
|68||Pierre S. du Pont, IV||January 18, 1977||January 15, 1985||Republican|
|69||Michael N. Castle||January 15, 1985||December 31, 1992||Republican|
|70||Dale E. Wolf||December 31, 1992||January 19, 1993||Republican|
|71||Thomas R. Carper||January 19, 1993||January 3, 2001||Democratic|
|72||Ruth Ann Minner||January 3, 2001||January 20, 2009||Democratic|
|73||Jack Markell||January 20, 2009||Present||Democratic|
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.
William Penn Street, 2nd Fl.
Dover, DE 19901
Telephone: (302) 744-4101
Fax: (302) 739-2775
- Governor of Delaware Jack Markell
- Lieutenant Governor of Delaware
- Lieutenant Governor Matthew P. Denn
- Delaware Attorney General
- Delaware Secretary of State
State of Delaware
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