Governor of Washington

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The Governor of the State of Washington is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Washington. The Governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and has no term limit.

Current officeholder

The 23rd and current governor is Jay Inslee, a Democrat elected in 2012. He succeeded Christine Gregoire (D) on January 16, 2013.


The Constitution of Washington addresses the office of the governor in Article III, the Executive.

Under Article III, Section 2:

The supreme executive power of this state shall be vested in a governor...

Constitutional provisions

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Current Lt. Governors
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The constitutional duties, rights and responsibilities of the Office of the Governor of the State of Washington are primarily laid out in Article III of the Washington State Constitution. Article III has been amended two times since the constitution was approved in 1889. Two of these amendments are relevant to the governor's perogatives:


A candidate for governor must be:

  • a citizen of the United States
  • a qualified elector of the state of Washington


See also: Washington gubernatorial election, 2012

Washington elects governors in the Presidential elections, that is, in leap years. For Washington, 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for noon on the second Monday in January following the election. Thus, January 14, 2013 and January 14, 2019 are inaugural days.

In the event of a tie between two candidates, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to choose among the two highest vote getters.

In the event of a contested election, the legislature shall resolve the issue in the manner set out by law.


Christine Gregoire (D) did not run for re-election in 2012. Jay Inslee (D) narrowly defeated Republican attorney general Rob McKenna in the general election on November 6, 2012.[1]

Governor of Washington General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngJay Inslee 51.5% 1,582,802
     Republican Rob McKenna 48.5% 1,488,245
Total Votes 3,071,047
Election Results via Washington Secretary of State.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Washington governors do not face any term limits.


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article III, Section 10 of the state constitution.

Whenever the sitting Governor dies, resigns, is removed or impeached, or is unable to discharge the office, the duties shall devolve upon the Lieutenant Governor. After the Lieutenant Governor, the order of succession is as follows:

If a Governor-elect dies, resigns, declines to take the office, or is disqualified, the Lieutenant Governor-elect shall take office as the Governor. If the Governor-elect is only temporarily unable to take the oath, the Lieutenant Governor-elect serves as Acting Governor until the disability is removed. If both the Governor-elect and the Lieutenant Governor-elect are unable to take the oath, same line of succession listed above applies.

If the Governor dies, resigns, is removed or if the Governor's disability is permanent and more than two years remain in the current term, a special election is held at the next general election, unless the next general election is less than 30 days away, in which case the special election is moved to the following general election.



The governor is responsible for ensuring that the laws of the state are faithfully executed (§ 5) and is responsible for the safety of the state, as he or she serves as commander-in-chief of the Washington Militia (§ 8).

Additionally, the governor has the power to appoint heads of departments, agencies, and institutions. The governor is also responsible for presenting the state budget.

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Requiring written information from any state officer any aspect of her duties and office (§ 5)
  • Addressing each session of the legislature on the state of state and making recommendations (§ 6)
  • Granting pardons (§ 9)
  • Remitting fines and forfeitures (§ 11)
  • Vetoing bills, subject to a two-thirds legislative override (§ 12)
  • Filling vacancies in all offices not otherwise provided for, including making recess appointments (§ 13)


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

In 2012, the Governor of Washington was paid an estimated $166,891 according to the Council of State Governments.

The governor's salary is set by law and may not be raised or diminished effective during the current term.

Contact information

Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

See also

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