Governor of Hawaii

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The Governor of the State of Hawaii, also called Ke Kiaaina o Hawaii, is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Hawaii.

It is a directly elected position, votes being cast by popular suffrage of residents of the state. The governor of Hawaii is elected by a plurality and is limited to two four-year terms.

Current officer

The 7th and current governor of Hawaii is Democrat Neil Abercrombie, elected in November 2010 and sworn in on December 6, 2010.

His wife, Nancie Caraway, is the First Lady of Hawaii.


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

Under Article V, Section I:

The executive power of the State shall be vested in a governor.


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

A governor is:

  • required to be at least 30 years old,
  • required to have been a resident of Hawaii for five consecutive years previous to election,
  • barred from other professions or paid positions during the term.


Hawaii elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Hawaii, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years.

Hawaii's Governor is not only the youngest chief executive's office in the United States, by date, it is tied with Alaska as the earliest inaugural date in the nation. Legally, the inauguration is always held at noon on the first Monday in December following an election. Thus, December 6, 2010 and December 1, 2014 are inaugural days.

Hawaii is one of only three states, the others being New Jersey and Tennessee, where the Governor is the only statewide elected office.


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancies are addressed under Article V, Section 4.

The Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii becomes acting governor upon the governor's absence from the state or disability from discharging duties, either temporarily or permanently.



Unlike all but two other states in the Union (Tennessee and New Jersey), Hawaii has only one elected statewide officer in the Governor of Hawaii. Also, the Governor of Hawaii has wide-reaching authority comparably stronger than the other governors in the Union; administrative powers are more centralized than that of most other states with little authority devolved to the county, and unlike other states there are no local school districts.

It is because of this central authority that the Governor of Hawaii is locally considered one of the most powerful governors in the United States. The governorship of Hawaii has often been characterized by the Honolulu Advertiser, Honolulu Star-Bulletin and various other local media as an "elected monarchy" referring to the most current governors as "King Ben" and "Queen Linda" in headlines during their tenures. Included within the governor's sphere of jurisdiction is the power to appoint all judges of the various courts within the Hawaii judicial system, subject to Senatorial approval.

The governor is responsible for enforcing laws passed by the Hawaii State Legislature and upholding rulings of the Hawaii State Judiciary. The role includes being commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Hawaii and having the power to use those forces to execute laws, suppress insurrection and violence and repel invasion. The Hawaiian Governor is the chief executive of the State of Hawaii and its various agencies and departments, as provided in the Hawaii State Constitution Article V, Sections 1 through 6.

The State of Hawaii does not have fixed cabinet positions and departments. By law, the Governor of Hawaii has the power to create his or her cabinet and departments as needed as long as the executive department is composed of no more than twenty bodies and cabinet members. The Governor of Hawaii is also empowered to remove cabinet officers at will, with the exception of the Attorney General of Hawaii, who must be removed by an act of the Hawaii State Senate.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Issuing pardons, reprieves, commutations, and forgiving fines and forfeitures. With legislative approval, the governor may also grants pardons for impeachment and restore civil rights suspended subsequent to a conviction from another state.
  • Appointing an Administrative Director who serves at the Governor's pleasure.


At one point, the Hawaiian Constitution dealt directly with the compensation of both the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. However, Article V, Section 3 was repealed by HB 1917 (2006) and the election held Nov 7, 2006.

As of 2010, the Governor of Hawaii is paid $117,312 a year, the 31st highest gubernatorial salary in America.

Contact information

Constituent Services
State Capitol, Room 415
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 586-0221 or (808) 586-0222
Fax: (808) 586-0019

Governor's Office
Phone: 808 586-0034
Fax: 808 586-0006

See also

External links