Chapter 8.1: Gubernatorial Elections and Qualifications
Gubernatorial Elections and Qualifications
At the end of this section, you’ll be able to
- Understand the structure and powers of Texas’ Executive Branch
- Understand the relative power of Texas’ Governor
- Understand how the Governor of Texas is elected
- Understand the qualifications to be Governor
The executive branch consists of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Comptroller of Public Accounts, Land Commissioner, Attorney General, Agriculture Commissioner, the three-member Texas Railroad Commission, the State Board of Education, and the Secretary of State. Texas has a plural executive branch system that limits the power of the Governor. Except for the Secretary of State, all executive officers are elected independently making them directly answerable to the public, not the Governor.
Partly because of many elected officials, the governor’s powers are quite limited in comparison to other state governors or the U.S. President. In popular lore and belief the lieutenant governor, who heads the Senate and appoints its committees, has more power than the governor.
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). The 1861 secessionist constitution set the term start date at the first Monday in the November following the election. The 1866 constitution, adopted just after the American Civil War, increased terms to 4 years, but no more than 8 years out of every 12, and moved the start date to the first Thursday after the organization of the legislature, or “as soon thereafter as practicable”. The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 removed the limit on terms, Texas remains one of 14 states with no gubernatorial term limit. The present constitution of 1876 shortened terms back to two years, but a 1972 amendment increased it again to four years.
Texas elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not presidential election years. For Texas 2018, 2022, 2026, 2030, and 2034 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the “on the first Tuesday after the organization of the Legislature, or as soon thereafter as practicable.”
If two candidates tie for the most votes or if an election is contested, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to resolve the issue.
The 48th and current governor is Republican Greg Abbott. He assumed office on January 20, 2015, succeeding Rick Perry (R). Perry was the longest-serving governor in state history with a tenure lasting from 2000 to 2015. Abbott previously served as the Attorney General of Texas from 2002 to 2015.
Article IV, Section 4 of the Texas Constitution sets the following qualifications for Governor:
- Must be at least 30 years old;
- Be a resident of Texas for at least 5 years immediately before the election;
- Must be a U.S. citizen.
Reading Review Questions
List all of the positions that are part of the Texas Executive Branch.
What is the purpose of the Plural Executive Branch in Texas? How are all but one selected for their position?
What state position is often seen as more powerful than the Governor of Texas? What are two of his most important duties?
When the Constitution of 1876 was passed, how long was one term of office for the Texas Governor? How has that changed and when? Are there any limits?
When does Texas hold its Gubernatorial elections? Be specific in your description? What happens if there is a tie?
Who was the longest serving Texas Governor? How long did he serve? Who currently serves and when did he take office?
List the only three Texas Constitutional qualifications a person must meet if he/she wishes to run for Governor.