Governor of Oregon

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The Governor of the State of Oregon is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Oregon. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two four-year terms out of and 12 year span.[1]

Current officeholder

The current governor is John Kitzhaber, a Democrat elected in 2010. Governor Kitzhaber also served as Governor of Oregon from 1995 to 2003.


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

Under Article V, Section I:

The cheif [sic] executive power of the State, shall be vested in a Governor...


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A candidate for the governorship must be:

  • a United States citizen
  • at least 30 years old
  • a resident of Oregon for at least three years

The age requirements does not apply to someone who succeeds to office under Section 8a of Article V.[1]


Oregon elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Oregon, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the second Monday in the January following an election. Thus, January 10, 2011 and January 12, 2015 are inaugural days.

In the event of a tie, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to choose from the two top vote getters. If the election is contested, the legislature shall decide the manner of addressing and settling the contest.


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article V, Section 8a.[1]

The state of Oregon has no formal office of the Lieutenant Governor. Instead, the Secretary of State serves as the ex officio Lieutenant Governor and succeeds the Governor is the latter dies, resigns, is removed from office, or is unable to discharge the office.

After the Secretary of State, the Treasurer, the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and then the Speaker of the House shall follow in the line of succession.

An Acting Governor holds the office until the Governor's disability is removed or until the next biennial election, when a special election shall be held. When the Treasurer or Secretary of State is the Acting Governor, an appointment is made for someone to fill the office of the Treasurer or Secretary of State.

An appointed Treasurer or Secretary of State may not succeed to the elected governorship.



The governor is the commander-in-chief of state military (§ 9). The governor also has the power to grant pardons and reprieves and to commute sentences (§ 14). The governor may convene a special session of the state legislature (§ 12).

Additionally, the Oregon Governor serves on the State Land Board which is tasked with managing state-owned lands to "obtain the greatest benefit for the people of Oregon, consistent with resource conservation and sound land management."

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Making periodic addresses to the General Assembly concerning and the state of the state and making recommendations on legislation (§ 11)
  • Upholding and ensuring the faithful execution of all state laws (§ 10)
  • Requiring written information from the head of any Administrative or Military Department on their duties and offices (§ 13)
  • Vetoing bills, including enjoying a line item veto and an emergency clause veto (§ 15a). The gubernatorial veto is subject to a two-third majority override of the legislature (§ 15b)
  • Making vacancies, including recess vacancies, for all offices not otherwise provided for. The appointment shall be for the remainder of the term if the next general election is within 61 days. Otherwise, a special election shall be called (§ 16)
  • Issuing writs of special election for all vacancies that occur in the legislature (§ 17)
  • Signing all commissions issues in the name of the state of Oregon (§ 18)[1]


See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries

In 2010, the Governor of Oregon was paid an estimated $93,600, according to the Sunshine Review.[2]
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