Governor of Delaware

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Delaware Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $2,675,600
Term limits:  2 terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Name:  Jack Markell
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  January 20, 2009
Compensation:  $171,000
Next election:  Term limited
Last election:  November 6, 2012
Other Delaware Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSecretary of EducationAgriculture SecretaryInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources SecretaryLabor SecretaryPublic Service Commission
The Governor of the State of Delaware is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch, and the highest state office in Delaware. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms.

As of May 2015, Delaware is one of 7 Democratic state government trifectas.

Current officeholder

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 won re-election in 2012.


The state constitution addresses the office of the governor in Article III, the Executive Department.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 1

The Supreme executive powers of the State shall be vested in a Governor.


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

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.

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 6

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.


See also: Gubernatorial election cycles by state
See also: Election of governors

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: Delaware gubernatorial election, 2012

Incumbent Jack Markell (D) defeated challengers Jeff Cragg (R), Jesse McVay (L) and Mark Joseph Perri (G) in the November 6, 2012 general election.

Governor of Delaware General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJack Markell Incumbent 69.3% 275,993
     Republican Jeff Cragg 28.6% 113,793
     Libertarian Jesse McVay 0.9% 3,668
     Green Mark Joseph Perri 1.1% 4,575
Total Votes 398,029
Election Results via Delaware Board of Elections.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

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

Delaware Constitution, Article III, Section 5

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.

Partisan composition

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


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).

State budget

The budget for the Governor's Office in the Fiscal Year 2013 was $2,675,600.[1]


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

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 2013, the governor's salary remained at $171,000.[2]


In 2012, the governor was paid an estimated $171,000. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


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.

Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, Delaware had Democratic governors in office for the last 21 years while there was a Republican governor in office only for the first year. Delaware is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. During the final five years of the study, Delaware 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 have 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 Delaware, the Delaware State Senate and the Delaware House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Delaware state government(1992-2013).PNG

Historical officeholders

From 1777-2011, Delaware has had 73 governors.[3]

Gubernatorial residence

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.

Recent news

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Contact information


Address: Dover Office
Tatnall Building
William Penn Street, 2nd Fl.
Dover, DE 19901

Telephone: (302) 744-4101
Fax: (302) 739-2775

See also

External links