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Revision as of 16:10, 27 June 2013

Kentucky Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $8,789,000
Term limits:  2 consecutive terms
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Kentucky Constitution, Article 6, the Executive Department
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Name:  Steve Beshear
Officeholder Party:  Democratic
Assumed office:  December 11, 2007
Compensation:  $153,970
Next election:  November 2015
Last election:  November 8, 2011
Other Kentucky Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorCommissioner of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor Cabinet SecretaryPublic Service Commission
The Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Kentucky. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two successive terms.

Current officer

The 61st and current Governor is Steve Beshear, a Democrat elected in 2007.


The state Constitution addresses the office of the governor in Article 6, the Executive Department.[1]

Under Article IV, Section 69:

The supreme executive power of the Commonwealth shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate, who shall be styled the "Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky."


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

A candidate for governor is required to be:

  • at least thirty years old
  • have resided in the state for at least six years preceding the general election


Kentucky belongs to the handful of states that hold off-year elections, that is, elections in off-numbered years that are neither Presidential nor midterm years. In Kentucky's case, elections are held in the year after a midterm and before a Presidential; thus, 2007, 2011, 2015, and 2019 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the inauguration is always held the fifth Tuesday after an election. Thus, December 13, 2011 and December 15, 2015 are inaugural days.

In the event of a tie, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots, as set out in § 90.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Kentucky governors are restricted to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait four years before being eligible to run again.

Kentucky Constitution, Section 71

The Governor shall be ineligible for the succeeding four years after the expiration of any second consecutive term for which he shall have been elected.

Partisan composition

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


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancies are addressed under Article 6, Section 84.

Whatever the circumstances, if the elected governor is unable or unwilling to discharge the office, the duties pass to the lieutenant governor. If the governor is on trial for any reason, the Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court must be the presiding officer.

Regarding physical or mental unfitness for office, the Attorney General of Kentucky may petition the Supreme Court for a judgment that the governor must be removed either temporarily or permanently.



Substantial power is granted to the governor of Kentucky. Historically, the office has been regarded as one of the most powerful executive positions in the United States.

With regards to the legislature

The governor exercises traditional veto power, which can be overridden by a majority of both houses of the General Assembly. He or she is also granted the privilege of a line-item veto. As with the U.S. President, the governor has the option of a pocket veto. Unlike the federal pocket veto, however, in the event that the legislature dismisses, preventing the return of the bill by the governor, the bill becomes law after ten days unless the governor explicitly vetoes it. (With the federal pocket veto, the bill is considered vetoed after ten days if the legislature dismisses.)

The governor may, in exceptional circumstances, call the General Assembly into special session. This is done by issuing a proclamation that includes the issue or issues to be addressed in the special session. Consideration of any other issues during the session is forbidden. Special sessions are to take place in the state capital except in cases of danger from enemies or disease; in such cases, the governor specifies the location of the session.

The governor is required to give a "State of the Commonwealth" address periodically to the General Assembly. Traditionally, this is an annual address. The governor is also charged with presenting a budget to the General Assembly every other year.

With regards to the judiciary

He or she is granted the traditional executive power of pardon except in cases of impeachment or treason.

With regards to appointments

The governor is given broad appointment power, and names many state commissioners and department heads without the need for legislative approval. The governor is also empowered to reorganize the state government or reduce it in size.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Serving as commander-in-chief of Kentucky's military forces, unless those forces have already been federalized (§ 75)
  • Filling all vacancies when the manner is not otherwise prescribed (§ 76)
  • Remitting fines and forfeitures, commuting sentences, and granting reprieves, in addition to the judicial pardon (§ 77)
  • Requiring written reports from any other member of the Executive on any aspect of that individual's job (§ 78)


Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for information that describes the divisions (if any exist) of a state executive office. That information for the Governor of Kentucky has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

State budget

The Office of the Governor's budget for fiscal year 2013 was $8,789,000.[2]


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

The governor's pay is set by law, under § 74, and must be paid as a salary and in no other way, under § 96.


In 2013, the governor's salary was $153,970. This reflects a voluntary 10 percent salary reduction taken by Gov. Steve Beshear.[3]


In 2012, the Kentucky Governor was paid an estimated $151,643. This figure comes from the Council of State Governments.


Partisan balance 1992-2013

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

From 1992-2013, in Kentucky there were Democratic governors in office for 18 years, including the last six, while there were Republican governors in office for four years. Kentucky is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013.

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 Kentucky, the Kentucky State Senate and the Kentucky House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Kentucky state government(1992-2013).PNG

Historical officeholders

Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for chronological lists of historical officeholders. That information for the Governor of Kentucky has not yet been added because the information was unavailable on the relevant state official websites, or we are currently in the process of formatting the list for this office. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a google news search for the term Kentucky + Governor

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

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Contact information

700 Capitol Avenue, Suite 100
Frankfort, Kentucky 40601

See also

External links