Governor of Wisconsin

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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.

Current officer

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

His wife, Tonette Walker, is the first Lady of Wisconsin.

Authority

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...

Requirements

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

Election

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.

History

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.

Removal

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.

Impeachment

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.

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

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.

Recall

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.

Vacancies

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.

Duties

Wisconsin

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 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)

Compensation

See also: Comparison of gubernatorial salaries

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

As of 2010, the Governor of Wisconsin is paid $137,092 a year, the 24th highest gubernatorial salary in America.

Contact information

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

Phone:608-266-1212
TTY:608-267-6790
Fax:608-267-8983

See also

External links

References