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Governor of Wisconsin

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Wisconsin Governor
General information
Office Type:  Partisan
Office website:  Official Link
2013 FY Budget:  $4,435,800
Term limits:  None
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:  Wisconsin Constitution, Article V, Section I
Selection Method:  Elected
Current Officeholder

Scott Walker 2.jpg
Name:  Scott Walker
Officeholder Party:  Republican
Assumed office:  January 3, 2011
Compensation:  $144,423
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Last election:  November 2, 2010
Other Wisconsin Executive Offices
GovernorLieutenant GovernorSecretary of StateAttorney GeneralTreasurerAuditorSuperintendent of EducationAgriculture CommissionerInsurance CommissionerNatural Resources CommissionerLabor CommissionerPublic Service Commission
The Governor of the State of Wisconsin is an elected Constitutional officer, the head of the Executive branch, and the highest state office in Wisconsin. The governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and has no term limit.

As of April 2015, Wisconsin is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Wisconsin State Legislature, Wisconsin House of Representatives, Wisconsin State Senate

Current officer

The 45th and current governor is Scott Walker, a Republican elected in 2010.


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

Under Article V, Section I:

The executive power shall be vested in a governor...


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

In order to be eligible for the office of governor of Wisconsin, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States and a qualified voter in the state of Wisconsin.

Additionally general requirements to hold office in Wisconsin stipulate that no candidate may:

  • hold any office, honor or profit under any foreign power
  • hold any federal office
  • be a convicted felon
  • be convicted of any misdemeanor involving a violation of the public trust


Wisconsin state government organizational chart

Wisconsin elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not Presidential election years. For Wisconsin, 2006, 2010, 2014, and 2018 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the first Monday in the January following an election. Thus, January 3, 2011 and January 5, 2015 are inaugural days.

The governor of Wisconsin is elected in a direct election—the candidate with the most votes becomes governor. In the event that two candidates receive an equal number of votes which is higher than that received by any other candidate, the members of the state legislature vote between the two at their next session.


Under the original Wisconsin Constitution, governors were elected for a term of two years; in 1967, the constitution was amended to increase the term of office to four years, beginning with the governor elected in the 1970 election. There is no limit to the number of terms a governor may hold.

Term limits

See also: States with gubernatorial term limits

Wisconsin governors do not face any term limits.


The governor may be removed from office through an impeachment trial or through a recall election.

Four governors have resigned for various reasons, and none have been removed from office through impeachment.

However, Arthur MacArthur, Sr., who, as lieutenant governor, became governor upon the resignation of William Barstow, was removed after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Barstow's opponent in the election, Coles Bashford, was the election's legitimate winner. Bashford initially won by 157 votes and was later found to have forged election returns from non-existent precincts.


See also: States with gubernatorial recall provisions

Recall elections are governed under Article XIII, Section 12 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

All elected officers are subject to recall, after the first year of their term, by filing a petition with the same officer who accepts the nominating petition for the office in question. For example, as nominating petitions for statewide office are filed with the Secretary of State, the petition to recall a statewide officer would also be filed with the Secretary of State.

The petition must have valid signatures equal to 25% of the votes cast for the governor in the city, county, or municipality which the targeted incumbent represents. As the governor is a statewide office, the petition threshold is 25% of all votes cast for governor in the last election.

Currently, that number would be 540,208, or 25% of 2,160,832, the total ballots cast in the 2010 gubernatorial race.

If the petition is valid, the filing officer must call a recall election for the Tuesday of the 6th week after the petition is filed. If that Tuesday is a legal holiday, the recall election is held the next day.

An incumbent under recall holds his or her office and carries out the duties until the results of the recall are declared. Unless a recalled incumbent declines to run within ten days of the recall election being called, the incumbent is assumed to have declared for the race.

For a partisan office, such as the governor, a recall primary is held for each party legally entitled to a separate ballot. if a recall primary is called, it is on the same date as the recall primary.

If the recall fails, the incumbent may not be recalled again for the remainder of his or her term.


See also: Gubernatorial impeachment procedures

Impeachments of civil officers are governed under Article VII, Section 1 of the Wisconsin Constitution.

An impeachment trial is carried out by the Wisconsin State Assembly, if a majority of its members agree to the impeachment. A governor may also choose to resign from office.

The court of impeachment for a civil officer is the Wisconsin State Senate, a super majority of whose members must agree to impeach. Before the impeachment begins, each Senator must take an oath of impartiality.

Though the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin is Constitutionally the President of the Senate, she or he may not act as an officer of the court when the officer being impeached is the governor.

If the Senate does impeach, the punishment may not extend beyond removal from office and disqualification to hold any other office, honor, or profit in the state. However, an impeached officer may still be liable to indictment, trial, and punishment according to law.

Partisan composition

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Wisconsin from 1992-2013.

Governor of Wisconsin Partisanship.PNG

Full History


See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled

Details of vacancy appointments are addressed under Article V, Sections 7 and 8.

If a sitting governor dies, resigns, or is removed, the Lieutenant Governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term.

If a sitting governor is absent, unable to discharge the office, or impeached, the Lieutenant Governor serves as "Acting Governor" until the elected governor returns, recovers, or the impeachment is vacated. The elected Lieutenant Governor may serve as Acting Governor for the remainder of the term.

In either case, if the lieutenant governor is unable or unwilling to serve as "Acting Governor," the Secretary of State is next in the line of succession.



The governor of Wisconsin is responsible for ensuring that the laws of Wisconsin are carried out (§ 4), and is also required to "communicate to the legislature, at every session, the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to them for their consideration as he may deem expedient" (§ 4).

The governor is the commander-in-chief of the militia of the state (§ 4). If it is deemed necessary, the governor may also convene extraordinary sessions of the state legislature (§ 4). The governor has the power to pardon or commute sentences or grant reprieves, except in cases of treason or impeachment (§ 6).

Other duties and privileges of the office include:

  • Vetoing bills, including appropriations, subject to a majority override of the legislature and provided the governor does not alter the meaning of a bill or a word in it by striking out individual letters (§ 10)
  • Reconvening the legislature away from the seat of government in the case of emergency, attack, or epidemic (§ 4)
  • Transacting all civil and military business of the state and expediting all measures resolved upon by the legislature (§ 4)
  • Issuing writs of election to fill vacancies in either chamber of the legislature (Article IV, § 14)
  • Making appointments to fill any vacancy on the Wisconsin Supreme Court or any Court of Record (Article VII, § 9)
  • Nominating an appointee if the office of the lieutenant governor becomes vacant, subject to confirmation by both the Senate and the General Assembly (Article XIII, § 10)


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 Wisconsin 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

Role in state budget

See also: Wisconsin state budget;;

Wisconsin operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[1][2]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in June.
  2. State agencies submit budget requests in September.
  3. The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the Wisconsin State Legislature in January.
  4. The legislature adopts a budget in June or July. A simple majority is needed to pass a budget.
  5. The biennial budget cycle begins in July.

Wisconsin is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[2]

The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget. In addition, the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.[2]

Governor's office budget

The budget for the governor's Office in Fiscal Year 2013 was $4,435,800.[3]


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

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


In 2013, the governor's salary remained at $144,423.[4]


In 2012, the Wisconsin Governor was paid an estimated $144,423. 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, Wisconsin
Partisan breakdown of the Wisconsin governorship from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, in Wisconsin there were Democratic governors in office for eight years while there were Republican governors in office for 14 years, including the last three. Wisconsin was under Republican trifectas for the last three years of the study period.

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

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Wisconsin state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the course of the study, Wisconsin experienced both Democratic and Republican trifectas as well as divided governments. The state's SQLI rankings were higher earlier in the study, with its highest ranking, finishing 7th, occurring in 1992, 1995 and 1998 during both Republican trifectas and a divided government. Its lowest ranking, finishing 30th, occurred in 2007 during a divided government. The state's rankings began to improve during the most recent years of the study, finishing 13th in 2012 during a Republican trifecta.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 21.00
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 10.00
  • SQLI average with divided government: 17.27
Chart displaying the partisanship of the Wisconsin government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

Historical officeholders

There have been 45 governors of Wisconsin since 1848. Of the 45 officeholders, 31 were Republican, 11 were Democrats, 1 was Democratic/Independent, 1 was a Progressive, and 1 was a Whig.[5]

List of Former Officeholders from 1848-Present
# Name Tenure Party
1 Nelson Dewey 1848 - 1852 Electiondot.png Democratic
2 Leonard James Farwell 1852 - 1854 Whig
3 William Augustus Barstow 1854 - 1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
4 MacArthur Arthur 1856 - 1856 Electiondot.png Democratic
5 Coles Bashford 1856 - 1858 Ends.png Republican
6 Alexander Williams Randall 1858 - 1862 Ends.png Republican
7 Louis Powell Harvey 1862 - 1862 Ends.png Republican
8 Edward Salomon 1862 - 1864 Ends.png Republican
9 James Taylor Lewis 1864 - 1866 Ends.png Republican
10 Lucius Fairchild 1866 - 1872 Ends.png Republican
11 Cadwallader Colden Washburn 1872 - 1874 Ends.png Republican
12 William R. Taylor 1874 - 1876 Electiondot.png Democratic
13 Harrison Ludington 1876 - 1878 Ends.png Republican
14 William E. Smith 1878 - 1882 Ends.png Republican
15 Jeremiah M. Rusk 1882 - 1889 Ends.png Republican
16 William Dempster Hoard 1889 - 1891 Ends.png Republican
17 George W. Peck 1891 - 1895 Electiondot.png Democratic
18 William H. Upham 1895 - 1897 Ends.png Republican
19 Edward Scofield 1897 - 1901 Ends.png Republican
20 Robert M. La Follette 1901 - 1906 Ends.png Republican
21 James O. Davidson 1906 - 1911 Ends.png Republican
22 Francis E. McGovern 1911 - 1915 Ends.png Republican
23 Emanuel L. Philipp 1915 - 1921 Ends.png Republican
24 John J. Blaine 1921 - 1927 Ends.png Republican
25 Fred R. Zimmerman 1927 - 1929 Ends.png Republican
26 Walter J. Kohler 1929 - 1931 Ends.png Republican
27 Phillip F. La Follette 1931 - 1933 Ends.png Republican
28 Albert G. Schmedeman 1933 - 1935 Electiondot.png Democratic
29 Phillip F. La Follette 1935 - 1939 Progressive
30 Julius Peter Heil 1939 - 1943 Ends.png Republican
31 Walter S. Goodland 1943 - 1947 Ends.png Republican
32 Oscar Rennebohm 1947 - 1951 Ends.png Republican
33 Walter J. Kohler 1950 - 1957 Ends.png Republican
34 Vernon W. Thomson 1957 - 1959 Ends.png Republican
35 Gaylord Anton Nelson 1959 - 1963 Electiondot.png Democratic
36 John W. Reynolds 1963 - 1965 Electiondot.png Democratic
37 Warren P. Knowles 1965 - 1971 Ends.png Republican
38 Patrick Joseph Lucey 1971 - 1977 Electiondot.png Democratic, Independent
39 Martin James Schreiber 1977 - 1979 Electiondot.png Democratic
40 Lee Sherman Dreyfus 1979 - 1983 Ends.png Republican
41 Anthony S. Earl 1983 - 1987 Electiondot.png Democratic
42 Tommy G. Thompson 1987 - 2001 Ends.png Republican
43 Scott McCallum 2001 - 2003 Ends.png Republican
44 Jim Doyle 2003 - 2011 Electiondot.png Democratic
45 Scott Walker 2011 - present Ends.png Republican

Recent news

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

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

Governor of Wisconsin News Feed

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Contact information

Office of the Governor
115 East State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702


See also

External links