Governor of Hawaii

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Hawaii Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
Term limits:  2 consecutive terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 1
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Neil Abercrombie.jpg
Name:  Neil Abercrombie
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  December 6, 2010
Compensation:  $117,312
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Last election:  November 2, 2010
Other Hawaii Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorAttorney GeneralDirector of FinanceAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerDirector of Commerce and Consumer AffairsChairperson of Land and Natural ResourcesDirector of Labor and Industrial RelationsPublic Utilities Commission
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.

As of May 2013, Hawaii is one of 12 Democratic state government trifectas.

Current officeholder

The 7th and current governor of Hawaii is Democrat Neil Abercrombie, elected in November 2010 and sworn in on December 6, 2010. Before becoming governor, Abercrombie represented Hawaii's 1st congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1990 to 2010. He was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1975 to 1979 and the Hawaii Senate from 1979 to 1986. He has also served on the Honolulu City Council (1988-1990). Abercrombie holds a Ph.D. in American Studies and an M.A. in Sociology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, as well as a bachelor's degree from Union College.[1]


The state constitution establishes the office of the governor in Article V, the Executive Department.

Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Section 1

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 Constitution, Article V, Section 1

No person shall be eligible for the office of governor unless the person shall be a qualified voter, have attained the age of thirty years and have been a resident of this State for five years immediately preceding the person's election.

The governor shall not hold any other office or employment of profit under the State or the United States during the governor's term of office. '


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

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. 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.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Hawaii governors are restricted to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait one term before being eligible to run again.

Hawaii Constitution, Section V, Section 1

No person shall be elected to the office of governor for more than two consecutive full terms.

Partisan composition

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


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

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

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), the only elected state office in Hawaii is the governor. In keeping with his unusual stature, the governor has a wide-reaching authority stronger than many other governors in the U.S. The administrative powers of the Hawaii executive 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 the approval of the Hawaii Senate.

The governor is responsible for enforcing laws passed by the Hawaii State Legislature and upholding rulings of the state judiciary. He is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces of Hawaii and has the power to use them to execute laws, suppress insurrection and violence and repel invasion. The governor is the chief executive of the State of Hawaii and its various agencies and departments, as provided for in the Hawaii Constitution, Article V, Sections 1 through 6.

The state of Hawaii does not have fixed cabinet positions and departments. By law, the governor 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. He 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.


  • Executive Administration
  • Communications
  • Policy
  • Constituent Services
  • Boards & Commissions
  • Washington Place
  • Operations
  • Office of Collective Bargaining[2]


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.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

In May 2013 Ballotpedia conducted a study of the partisan control of state government from 1992-2013. During those 22 years, in Hawaii there were Democratic governors in office for 14 years while there were Republican governors in office for eight years. During the final three years of the study, Hawaii 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 Hawaii, the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Hawaii state government(1992-2013).PNG

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