Texas governor

Texas governor

Governor of Texas
Seal of the Governor
The Honorable
Residence Texas Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, no term limits
Inaugural holder James Pinckney Henderson
Formation Texas Constitution
Website Office of the Governor

The governor of Texas is the head of the executive branch of Texas's government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Texas Legislature, and to convene the legislature. The governor may grant pardons in cases other than impeachment (but only when recommended by the Board of Pardons and Paroles) or in the case of treason, with permission by the legislature.

Compared to the governors of other U.S. states, the governorship of Texas has been cited by Slate magazine and liberal commentator Molly Ivins as a fairly weak office.[1][2] In some respects it is the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, who presides over the state Senate, who is a more powerful political figure able to exercise greater personal prerogatives.[1][2] Current Governor Rick Perry held the Lt. Governorship from 1999–2000 under George W. Bush.

Number of Governors of Texas by party affiliation
Party Governors
Democratic 39
Republican 5
Unionist 1
Independent 1

The state's first constitution in 1845 established the office of governor, to serve for two years, but no more than four years out of every six (essentially a limit of no more than two consecutive terms).[3] The 1861 secessionist constitution set the term start date at the first Monday in the November following the election.[4] The 1866 constitution, adopted just after the American Civil War, increased terms to four years, but no more than eight years out of every twelve, and moved the start date to the first Thursday after the organization of the legislature, or "as soon thereafter as practicable".[5] The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 removed the limit on terms,[6] and to this day, Texas is one of 14 states[7] with no gubernatorial term limit. The present constitution of 1876 shortened terms back to two years,[8] but a 1972 amendment increased it back to four years.[9]

The Governor is sworn-in on the third Tuesday of January every four years along with the Lieutenant Governor, so Perry and current Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst both began new terms on January 18, 2011, which ends on January 20, 2015. Perry announced on July 8, 2013, that he will not seek re-election to a fourth full term in the upcoming 2014 elections, so his third full term as Governor will end on January 20, 2015.

Despite the lack of term limits, no Texas governor in the 19th or 20th century ever served more than seven and a half consecutive years in office (Allan Shivers) or eight years total service (Bill Clements, in two non-consecutive four-year terms). Current Governor Rick Perry, who took office in December 2000, has now surpassed both records. Perry joins Shivers, Price Daniel, and John Connally as the fourth Texas governor to serve three terms.

In case of a vacancy in the office of governor, the lieutenant governor becomes governor.[10] This was added only in a 1999 amendment, prior to which the lieutenant governor only acted as governor, except during the time of the 1861 constitution, which said that the lieutenant governor would be "styled Governor of the State of Texas" in case of vacancy.[11] The Governor and first family reside in the Texas Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas.

Governors of Spanish Texas

See: List of Texas Governors and Presidents

Governors of Mexican Texas

See: List of Texas Governors and Presidents

Presidents of the Republic of Texas

See: President of the Republic of Texas#List of presidents and vice presidents

Governors of Texas

# Name Picture Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor Notes[12]
1 James Pinckney Henderson February 19, 1846 December 21, 1847 Democratic Albert Clinton Horton
2 George T. Wood December 21, 1847 December 21, 1849 Democratic John Alexander Greer
3 Peter Hansborough Bell December 21, 1849 November 23, 1853 Democratic John Alexander Greer (1849–51) [13]
James W. Henderson (1851–53)
4 James W. Henderson November 23, 1853 December 21, 1853 Democratic Vacant [14]
5 Elisha M. Pease December 21, 1853 December 21, 1857 Unionist David Catchings Dickson (1853–55)
Hardin Richard Runnels (1855–57)
6 Hardin R. Runnels December 21, 1857 December 21, 1859 Democratic Francis R. Lubbock
7 Sam Houston December 21, 1859 March 18, 1861 Independent Edward Clark [15]
8 Edward Clark March 18, 1861 November 7, 1861 Democratic Vacant [14]
9 Francis R. Lubbock November 7, 1861 November 5, 1863 Democratic John McClannahan Crockett
10 Pendleton Murrah November 5, 1863 June 17, 1865 Democratic Fletcher Summerfield Stockdale [16]
Fletcher Summerfield Stockdale June 11, 1865 June 16, 1865 Military Vacant [17]
11 Andrew J. Hamilton June 17, 1865 August 9, 1866 Democratic-Military Vacant [18]
12 James W. Throckmorton August 9, 1866 August 8, 1867 Democratic George Washington Jones [19]
13 Elisha M. Pease June 8, 1867 September 30, 1869 Republican Vacant [19][20]
14 Edmund J. Davis January 8, 1870 January 15, 1874 Republican Vacant [21]
15 Richard Coke
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January 15, 1874 December 21, 1876 Democratic Richard Bennett Hubbard, Jr. [22]
16 Richard B. Hubbard December 21, 1876 January 21, 1879 Democratic Vacant [14]
17 Oran M. Roberts January 21, 1879 January 16, 1883 Democratic Joseph Draper Sayers (1879–81)
Leonidas Jefferson Storey (1881–83)
18 John Ireland January 16, 1883 January 20, 1887 Democratic Francis Marion Martin (1883–85)
Barnett Gibbs (1885–87)
19 Lawrence Sullivan Ross January 18, 1887 January 20, 1891 Democratic Thomas Benton Wheeler
20 James Stephen Hogg January 20, 1891 January 15, 1895 Democratic George Cassety Pendleton (1891–93)
Martin McNulty Crane (1893–95)
21 Charles A. Culberson January 15, 1895 January 17, 1899 Democratic George Taylor Jester
22 Joseph D. Sayers 50px January 17, 1899 January 20, 1903 Democratic James Nathan Browning
23 S. W. T. Lanham January 20, 1903 January 15, 1907 Democratic George D. Neal
24 Thomas Mitchell Campbell
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January 15, 1907 January 17, 1911 Democratic Asbury Bascom Davidson
25 Oscar Branch Colquitt January 17, 1911 January 19, 1915 Democratic Asbury Bascom Davidson (1911–13)
William Harding Mayes (1913–15)
26 James E. "Pa" Ferguson January 19, 1915 August 25, 1917 Democratic William Pettus Hobby, Sr. [23]
27 William P. Hobby August 25, 1917 January 18, 1921 Democratic Vacant (1917–19) [24]
Willard Arnold Johnson (1919–21)
28 Pat Morris Neff January 18, 1921 January 20, 1925 Democratic Lynch Davidson (1921–23)
Thomas Whitfield Davidson (1923–25)
29 Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson January 20, 1925 January 17, 1927 Democratic Barry Miller
30 Dan Moody January 17, 1927 January 20, 1931 Democratic
31 Ross S. Sterling January 20, 1931 January 17, 1933 Democratic Edgar E. Witt
32 Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson January 17, 1933 January 15, 1935 Democratic
33 James V. Allred January 15, 1935 January 17, 1939 Democratic Walter Frank Woodul
34 W. Lee O'Daniel January 17, 1939 August 4, 1941 Democratic Coke R. Stevenson [25]
35 Coke R. Stevenson 50px August 4, 1941 January 21, 1947 Democratic Vacant (1941–43) [24]
John Lee Smith (1943–47)
36 Beauford H. Jester January 21, 1947 July 11, 1949 Democratic Allan Shivers [26]
37 Allan Shivers 50px July 11, 1949 January 15, 1957 Democratic Vacant (1949–51) [24]
Ben Ramsey (1951–53)
38 Price Daniel January 15, 1957 January 15, 1963 Democratic Ben Ramsey
39 John Connally January 15, 1963 January 21, 1969 Democratic Preston Smith
40 Preston Smith January 21, 1969 January 16, 1973 Democratic Ben Barnes
41 Dolph Briscoe January 16, 1973 January 16, 1979 Democratic William P. Hobby, Jr.
42 Bill Clements January 16, 1979 January 18, 1983 Republican
43 Mark White January 18, 1983 January 20, 1987 Democratic
44 Bill Clements January 20, 1987 January 15, 1991 Republican
45 Ann Richards January 15, 1991 January 17, 1995 Democratic Bob Bullock
46 George W. Bush January 17, 1995 December 21, 2000 Republican Bob Bullock (1995–99) [27]
Rick Perry (1999–2000)
47 Rick Perry December 21, 2000 Incumbent Republican Bill Ratliff (acting) (2000–03) [24][28]
David Dewhurst (2003–present)

Other high offices held

Name Gubernatorial Term Other High Offices Held
Sam Houston 1859-1861 U.S. Representative (1823-1827), Governor of Tennessee (1827-1829), President of Texas (1836-1838, 1841-1844), U.S. Senator (1846-1859)
W. Lee O'Daniel 1939-1941 U.S. Senator (1941–1949)
Price Daniel 1957–1963 U.S. Senator (1953–1957)
John Connally 1963–1969 U.S. Secretary of the Navy (1961)
U.S. Secretary of the Treasury (1971–1972)
Bill Clements 1979–1983
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense (1971–1977)
George W. Bush 1995–2000 43rd President of the United States (2001–2009)

Living former governors

As of 21 November 2012, two former governors were living. The most recent death of a former governor was that of Bill Clements (1979–1983, 1987–1991), on May 29, 2011. The most recent governor to serve who has died is Ann Richards (1991–1995), who died on September 13, 2006.

Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
Mark White 1983–1987 (1940-03-17) March 17, 1940 (age 74)
George W. Bush 1995–2000 (1946-07-06) July 6, 1946 (age 67)

Gubernatorial trivia


Texas has had two female governors: Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson and Ann Richards. Ferguson was one of the first two women elected governor of a U.S. state (on November 4, 1924), along with Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming. Ross was inaugurated on January 5, 1925, while Ferguson was inaugurated on January 20, so Ross is considered the first female state governor. Ferguson was the wife of former governor Jim "Pa" Ferguson, while Richards was elected "in her own right," being neither the spouse nor widow of a governor.

Texas governors have been born in fourteen states: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.

Baylor University is the most common alma mater of Texas governors, with five of them - Lawrence Sullivan Ross, Pat Morris Neff, Price Daniel, Mark White, and Ann Richards - considered alumni (though Ross attended but never completed a degree). To date, Coke Stevenson is the most recent governor who never attended college, and Bill Clements is the most recent who attended college but did not graduate.


Three governors have served non-consecutive terms: Elisha M. Pease, Miriam A. Ferguson, and Bill Clements. As was the case in most Southern states, Texas elected no Republican governors from the end of Reconstruction until the late twentieth century. Bill Clements was the state's first Republican governor since Edmund J. Davis left office in 1874, 105 years earlier. Dolph Briscoe was the last governor to be elected to a two-year term, in 1972; he was also the first to be elected to a four-year term, in 1974, since the post-Reconstruction period when two-year terms had first been established. Governor Rick Perry, who ascended to the governorship on December 21, 2000 upon the resignation of then-Governor George W. Bush, won full four-year terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Texas governors in popular culture

W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel served as the inspiration for the fictional, but similarly named Mississippi Governor Menelaus "Pappy" O'Daniel in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou?.

Ann Richards had a cameo appearance on an episode of the animated comedy series King of the Hill, in which she has a brief romance with Bill Dauterive after he takes the fall for mooning her in the elevator of an Austin hotel (Hank actually mooned her because he thought his friends were going to be mooning the people in the elevator but they set him up).

See also

Texas portal



  • Legislative Reference Library of Texas -- Governors of Texas
  • Handbook of Texas Online
  • Texas History Quiz -- Presidents and Governors of Texas
  • Explanation of the strengths of governors
  • 1876 Constitution, as amended (Current)
  • 1876 Constitution
  • 1869 Constitution
  • 1866 Constitution
  • 1861 Constitution
  • 1845 Constitution