Governor of Oklahoma
the State of Oklahoma
Flag of the Governor
|Residence||Oklahoma Governor's Mansion|
|Term length||Four years, renewable once (maximum lifetime)|
|Inaugural holder||Charles N. Haskell|
|Formation||November 16, 1907|
The governor of the state of Oklahoma is the head of state for the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma. The governor is the ex officio Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard when not called into federal use. Despite being an executive branch official, the governor also holds legislative and judicial powers. The governor's responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the Oklahoma Legislature, submitting the annual state budget, ensuring that state laws are enforced, and that the peace is preserved. The governor's term is four years in length.
The office was created in 1907 when Oklahoma was officially admitted to the United States as the 46th state. Prior to statehood in 1907, the office was preceded by a Presidential appointed Governor of Oklahoma Territory with similar powers.
|This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
Territorial period 
Before statehood in 1907, modern day Oklahoma was composed of Oklahoma and Indian Territories. While Indian Territory remained under the semi-independence of the Indian nations, Oklahoma Territory was organized territory under the supervision of the United States Congress. Within the Territory, a tripartite government existed, including a Territorial Assembly, a Territorial Supreme Court, and a Territorial Governor.
The executive branch of the territory’s government was headed by the Governor of Oklahoma Territory. The governor was appointed by the President of the United States to serve a four-year term. Despite a set term, the governor served at the pleasure of the president. The president could remove the governor from office at any moment.
The governor was the head of the territorial government. He had the power to veto legislation proposed by the territorial legislature and the power to appoint member to his cabinet, who in turn had to be ratified by territorial lawmakers. The governor had the power to appoint justices to the territorial high court. The governor was responsible to the President on addressing issues in the territory and served as the representative as the federal government of the United States. He was also the Commander in Chief of the territorial militia.
After the Oklahoma Constitution was written and accepted in 1907, Oklahoma and Indian Territories was joined as the State of Oklahoma. The office of Territorial Governor was replaced by the Governor of Oklahoma. The new office possessed many of the Territorial Governor’s powers and similar responsibilities. However, the Governor was designed with many restrictions, limits, and legislative and judicial oversight. This was done under the “weak governor system” to not allow the abuse of power that had occurred under the Territorial government.
After the first governor Charles N. Haskell left office in 1911, the executive branch saw a vast reduction in its powers. Governor Haskell, considered the father of the Oklahoma Constitution, knew the office inside and out. This allowed him to amass a great deal of executive power and influence over every aspect of state government. However, in the twenty years after Haskell, the Legislature drained the governor of his powers and severely weakened the office. It was not until William H. Murray, another of the Constitution’s authors, in 1935 did the Governorship get back its powers.
As Oklahoma grew and the state government expanded, the Governor became gradually more powerful. As more agencies were introduced, the Governor’s appointment power extended to them all, granting him greater indirect influence over the government. Also, initially the Governor was not eligible to immediately succeed himself after being elected. It was not until 1966 when Oklahoma amended the Constitution to allow the Governor to serve two consecutive terms.
Gubernatorial elections are held every four years. The Governor of Oklahoma is elected directly by the voters of Oklahoma. The candidate with the highest number of votes becomes governor following the election. The Oklahoma Constitution requires the Oklahoma Legislature to choose the governor in the case of a tie vote.
Section Three of Article VI of the Oklahoma Constitution establishes that gubanatorial candidates must be a citizen of the United States, at least 31 years old, and have been resident of Oklahoma for at least ten years.
Under Section Four in Article VI of the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor serves a four-year term in office beginning on the second Monday in January. Section Four also states that no person may hold the office for more than two consecutive terms. On November 2, 2010 voters passed a ballot initiative to limit Governors to only eight years as governor.
Oath of office 
"I, ........., do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as Governor of the State of Oklahoma to the best of my ability."
Last election 
|2010 gubernatorial election, Oklahoma|
|Republican gain from Democratic|
Powers and duties 
Executive powers 
The Governor, according to the Oklahoma Constitution, must "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." The governor is vested with "supreme executive power" as the state's "Chief Magistrate" and acts as head of the executive branch of Oklahoma. The governor has the power to issue executive orders that have the effect of law. The governor is the "conservator of the peace throughout the State," making him the chief peace officer in the state. In his position as chief peace officer, the governor is granted command over state and local law enforcement agencies. In the event that law enforcement entities is unable to execute the law, the governor, acting as Commander-in-Chief of Oklahoma’s state militia, may call out the Oklahoma National Guard to "execute the laws, protect the public health, suppress insurrection, and repel invasion." The governor is assisted in managing the military of Oklahoma by the Adjutant General of Oklahoma, who is appointed by the governor.
The governor has the power to commission all officers not otherwise commissioned by the law of Oklahoma and is granted the power of appointment. When any office at the state level becomes vacant for any reason, the governor, unless otherwise provided by law, has the power to appoint a person to fill such vacancy, who shall continue in office until a successor shall have been elected or appointed according to the law of Oklahoma. If the office of an Oklahoma member of the United States House of Representatives or United States Senate becomes vacant the governor calls a special election to fill the remainder of the term. In the case of United States senators, the governor is empowered by the U.S. Constitution to appoint someone immediately to fill the vacant Senate seat temporarily until a special election can be held.
Within the executive branch of Oklahoma government, the governor is assisted by the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, the Secretary of State of Oklahoma, the Attorney General of Oklahoma, and the State Treasurer of Oklahoma, among others. While the other high level executive offices are elected directly by the people of Oklahoma, the Secretary of State is appointed by the governor with the consent of the Oklahoma Senate for a four-year term. Due to the large number of state agencies, the governor is assisted in running the government through the use of the Oklahoma State Cabinet. Through the State Cabinet, the Governor can address the assembled heads of Oklahoma's executive branch departments which oversee Oklahoma's agencies. Each department is headed by a Secretary appointed by the governor and is responsible for carrying out his executive orders through their department.
The governor is an ex officio chair of many state commissions and committees, such as the Oklahoma Commissioners of Land Office and the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. While not a member, the governor has the power to appoint members to most executive commissions and state commissions with the advice and consent of the Oklahoma Senate, such as the Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma.
The governor is also responsible for preparing the proposed Oklahoma state budget presented to the Oklahoma Legislature in February for the next fiscal year beginning in July. After state legislators negotiate the terms of the budget with the governor, the Oklahoma House of Representatives drafts a general appropriations bill that must be approved by the legislature and signed by the governor.
Legislative and judicial powers 
Like the President of the United States, the governor plays a major role in the legislative process, even though legislative power is vested in the Oklahoma Legislature. Every bill which that is passed by both the Oklahoma Senate and Oklahoma House of Representatives, and every resolution requiring the assent of both chambers of the legislature, must, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor. The governor may choose to sign it or veto it and send it back to the legislature. The governor’s veto can only be overridden by a two-thirds approval vote from each house.
The governor has the power of the line-item veto, which allows her to sign part of appropriation bills into law, while sending appropriations items she disagrees with back to the legislature. Items disapproved by the governor in this manner become void, unless the legislation is re-passed in both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate with a two-thirds vote in favor of overriding the veto.
Bills that are part of the governor's agenda are often drafted at the initiative of the governor or governor's staff. In annual and special messages to the Oklahoma Legislature, the governor may propose legislation. The most important annual message to state lawmakers takes place in the annual State of the State address. Before a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature, the governor outlines the status of the state and legislative proposals for the upcoming year. The governor is in a strong position to influence public opinion and thereby to influence the actions of state legislators.
The governor has the power to convoke the legislature, or the Oklahoma Senate only, on extraordinary occasions. During extraordinary sessions, state legislators can only act on subjects the governor recommends for consideration. When ever a vacancy occurs within the state legislature, the governor shall issue a writ of election to fill such vacancies. In case of a disagreement between the two houses of the legislature, at a regular or special session, the governor may adjourn them to such time as he shall deem proper, not beyond the day of the next stated meeting of the legislature. He or she may convoke the Oklahoma Legislature at or adjourn it to another place, when, in his opinion, the public safety or welfare, or the safety or health of the members require it. Such a change or adjournment must be concurred in by a two-thirds vote of all the of each branch of the legislature.
The governor plays an active role within the judicial branch of Oklahoma government. Oklahoma has a Judicial Nominating Commission consisting of thirteen members that review all potential justices and judges of Oklahoma's appellate courts, such as the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and review them to determine if they qualify to hold their respective positions. Of these thirteen members, the governor appoints six without the consent of the Oklahoma Legislature. The governor's appointments serve for a term of six years each; the terms are staggered so that approximately one-third of the appointments become vacant every two years.
In the event of a vacancy upon the Oklahoma Supreme Court or on the Court of Criminal Appeals, the Judicial Nominating Committee submits three nominees to fill the vacancy to the governor and Oklahoma Supreme Court chief justice. The governor must appoint one to fill the vacancy within 60 days or the appointment is turned over to the chief justice.
The governor also possess the power to grant commutations, pardons and paroles for all offenses, except cases of impeachment, upon such conditions and with such restrictions and limitations as he may deem proper, subject to such regulations as may be prescribed by law. The governor does not have the power to grant paroles if a convict has been sentenced to death or sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. In order to grant a pardon to an individual, he must submit the name of the individual to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board composed of five members, three of which are appointed by the governor at the beginning of his term in office to serve a term that coincides with his own. After reviewing the applicant for clemency, and a favorable vote from the majority, the board may empower the governor to make such acts of as he deems necessary.
The governor has the power to grant after conviction, reprieves, or a leave of absence not to exceed sixty days, without the action of the board. The governor is required to communicate to the Oklahoma Legislature, at each regular session, each case of reprieve, commutation, parole or pardon, granted, stating the name of the convict, the crime of which he was convicted, the date and place of conviction, and the date of commutation, pardon, parole and reprieve.
Foreign relations 
The governor, as Oklahoma’s head of state, serves as the chief representative of Oklahoma to the United States and to the world. Deals between Oklahoma and any foreign power (including other U.S. states and the United States) are negotiated by the governor. This reflects the governor's position as the spokesman for the state and the state’s interests to other state and world leaders. However, the governor may not make treaties with other nations or other U.S. states, as this is prevented by the United States Constitution.
In discharging his duty as chief spokesman, the governor may be required to testify before the United States Congress or meet with the President of the United States to address national issues that may affect the state. It is the governor’s responsibility to promote Oklahoma’s industries to the world economy as the spokesman for industrial development within the state. Along with those responsibilities comes the role of chief promoter of Oklahoma’s goods and services to foreign consumers.
The governor plays a significant role in national politics. As the representative of Oklahoma, the governor heads, on a state level, his or her political party. In this position, the governor serves as the state’s leader in selecting a party candidate to run for the office of President of the United States. As Oklahoma's head of state, the governor may travel through the country to promote Oklahoma in a general interest or travel abroad to serve as proponent of America’s interests.
Emergency powers 
Pursuant to the Oklahoma Emergency Management Act of 2003 and the Catastrophic Health Emergency Powers Act, in the event that a natural or man-made emergency or a catastrophic health emergency occurs or is anticipated in the immediate future, the governor gains several emergency powers to better respond to the emergency and combat the threat. Either the governor through executive order or the Oklahoma Legislature through concurrent resolution may declare a state of emergency. Once declared, the governor may exercise his or her additional emergency powers. At any time, the governor (through executive order) or the state legislature (through concurrent resolution) may declare an end to the state of emergency and suspend the governor's emergency powers.
Upon the declaration of an emergency, the governor is allowed a limited-form of rule by decree. He assumes direct regulatory control over essential resources of the state. It will then be the responsibility of the governor to determine the priorities of such resources and allocate them as the governor may deem necessary. These resources include, but are not limited to, food, manpower, health and health manpower, water, transportation, economic stabilization, electric power, petroleum, gas, and solid fuel, industrial production, construction and housing.
The focus of the governor's emergency powers is to ensure the security and stability of the state. As such, the governor gains vast and comprehensive police powers. In discharging those power to enforce all laws, rules and regulations relating to emergency management, the governor assumes direct operational control of any or all emergency management forces of the state, including the Oklahoma National Guard, state police agencies, state and local health departments, as well as county sheriff's offices and local police departments. These emergency police powers extend to providing for the evacuation of the state’s population from any affected or threatened area or areas within the state, regulating the conduct of civilians and the movement of pedestrians and vehicular traffic, and regulating public meetings and gatherings. The governor is responsible for providing for the care of all those regulated by his or her orders.
During a state of emergency, the governor is authorized to utilize the services, equipment, supplies and facilities of all departments, offices and agencies of the state to the maximum extent practicable. State, county, and local officers and personnel must cooperate with the governor in emergency management upon his or her direction. Any state, county, or local official that willful fails to obey any order, rule or regulation issued by the governor may be removed from office by the governor. However, before removal, officers must receives the charges against them and have an opportunity to defend themselves. Pending the presentation of charges, the governor may suspend such officers for a period not to exceed thirty days. Any vacancy resulting from removal or suspension shall be filled by the governor until it is filled as provided by state law. However, according to the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor may not remove from office the elective state executive officers, the justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the judges of the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, and members of the Oklahoma Legislature.
When carrying out the functions of his or her emergency powers, the governor is immune from civilly liable for any loss or injury resulting from any decision, determination, order or action in the performance of his/her assigned duties and responsibilities during a stated emergency. However, this immunity does not apply when such loss or injury is caused by the gross negligence, or willfully and unnecessarily act by the governor.
Relationship with the Lieutenant Governor 
The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is elected at the same election as the governor, but not jointly as the running mate of the gubernatorial candidate. Oklahoma currently has a governor and a lieutenant governor of the same party, as both Governor Mary Fallin and Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb are of the Republican Party.
The first instance of an Oklahoma governor serving alongside a lieutenant governor of a different political party began in 1963, when Republican Party Governor Henry Bellmon served alongside Lieutenant Governor Leo Winters. Since then, there have been three more instances. In 1967, Republican Governor Dewey F. Bartlett served alongside Democratic Lieutenant Governor George Nigh. In 1987, Bellmon served alongside Democratic Lieutenant Governor Robert S. Kerr III. Finally, in 2002, Democratic Governor Brad Henry served alongside Republican Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin.
A lieutenant governor can also serve as Acting Governor. When acting as the governor, the Oklahoma Constitution provides all the powers of the governor to the lieutenant governor. This includes the power of signing or vetoing legislation, making political appointments, calling out the Oklahoma National Guard, or granting pardons. The need for the lieutenant governor to act as the governor may be due to the governor's absence from the state, or his inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office. When acting as governor, the lieutenant governor holds the powers of the governor until the governor returns to the state or she is found to be able to resume her powers and duties.
Office of the Governor 
|Office of the Governor|
|Preceding Agency||Office of the Territorial Governor|
|Headquarters||Oklahoma State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
|Annual budget||$1.98 million|
|Minister responsible||Mary Fallin, Governor|
|Agency executive||Denise Northrup, Chief of Staff|
|Office of the Governor|
The Office of the Governor is the state agency that supports the governor in the performance of gubanatorial duties. The agency consists of the governor's staff and is headed by the governor's chief of staff. The current chief of staff is Denise Northrup. Staffers are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the governor. They work in the governor's Oklahoma State Capitol offices in Oklahoma City, the governor's Tulsa office and the Governor's Mansion.
As of 2013, the agency has an annual budget of approximately $1.98 million. The budget provides funding for employee salaries and benefits, operation and upkeep of the governor's offices in the Oklahoma State Capitol and Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the operation and upkeep of the Governor's Mansion.
Since 1928, Oklahoma governors reside in the Oklahoma Governor's Mansion. Before its construction, governors lived in various locations around Guthrie and Oklahoma City. Governor Charles N. Haskell set up his administration's office and his official residence within a hotel in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Legislature provided for the construction of an official residence after years of debate in 1927. The next year, in 1928, the mansion was completed.
Built by an Oklahoma City architectural firm, Layton, Hicks and Forsyth, the mansion is of Dutch-Colonial style. Carthage limestone was used so the exterior of the Mansion would complement the Oklahoma State Capitol, which is located to the west of the mansion. The state legislature allocated $100,000 of state money ($75,000 for construction and $25,000 for furnishing) to the project. Two years later, another $39,000 was set aside to complete outbuildings and landscaping. Though originally having 19 rooms, today the 14,000-square-foot (1,300 m2) Mansion has 12, including a library, parlor, dining room, grand ballroom, kitchen, sunroom and five bedrooms.
The mansion also serves as an active museum. Throughout the mansion there are antiques and artwork from both museum and private collections. The museum is designed to provide a glimpse into Oklahoma's history and culture. Artists represented in oil and bronze include N.C. Wyeth, Charles Marion Russell, Thomas Moran and Albert Beirstadt.
As per the Oklahoma Constitution, if the governor is impeached, resigns, dies, leaves the state, fails to qualify or is unable to serve, the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma fills the vacancy, either temporarily or for the remainder of the gubanatorial term.
If, during a vacancy of the office of Governor, the Lieutenant Governor is impeached, displaced, resigns, dies, is absent from the state, or becomes incapable of performing the duties of the office, the President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate is the next official in the gubanatorial line of succession. The Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives is third in line of gubanatorial succession.
If, for any reason, the governor, lieutenant governor, President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, and Speaker of the Oklahoma House are unable to act as governor, then the next official in the line of succession becomes the emergency interim successor. As the emergency interim successor to the governor, the officer may exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor until a new governor is elected or until the disability is removed from the governor or higher official. The emergency interim successor does not however inherit the title of governor, unless there is a man-made or natural emergency or disaster has occurred in the United States. The Oklahoma Legislature, by concurrent resolution, may, at any time, terminate the authority of any emergency interim successor to exercise the powers and discharge the duties of the governor.
Line of succession 
As provided by the Oklahoma Constitution and the Oklahoma Emergency Interim Executive and Judicial Succession Act, the line of succession to the Governorship is as follows:
|May succeed to Governorship|
|Governor of Oklahoma||Mary Fallin|
|1||Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma||Todd Lamb|
|2||President Pro Tempore of the Senate||Brian Bingman|
|3||Speaker of the House of Representatives||Kris Steele|
|May serve as Emergency Interim Successor|
|4||State Auditor and Inspector||Gary Jones|
|5||Attorney General||Scott Pruitt|
|6||State Treasurer||Ken Miller|
|7||State School Superintendent||Janet Barresi|
|8||Labor Commissioner||Mark Costello|
|9||Insurance Commissioner||John Doak|
|10||Corporation Commissioner (by length of tenure)||Bob Anthony|
|11||Corporation Commissioner||Jeff Cloud|
|12||Corporation Commissioner||Dana Murphy|
Gubernatorial trivia 
- Between the births of Charles N. Haskell in 1860 and Brad Henry in 1963, future governors have been born in every decade
- Between the deaths of Lee Cruce in 1933 and Henry Bellmon in 2009, former governors have died in every decade except in the 1980s
- Ten governors were actually born in Oklahoma
- Governors have been born in ten states and the federal district
- Governors have been born in ten counties in Oklahoma
- Muskogee, Oklahoma, has produced more governors than any other location:
- The first governor born was Charles N. Haskell on March 13, 1860
- The most recent governor born is Brad Henry on July 10, 1963
- The shortest term in office was nine days by George Nigh in 1963 (January 6 – 14, 1963)
- Sworn in at age 33, J. Howard Edmondson was the youngest governor
- Sworn in at age 61, William H. Murray was the oldest governor
- The oldest living former governor is George Nigh at age 85
- The youngest living former governor is Brad Henry at age 49
- Henry S. Johnston has the longest life span of any governor, 98 years
- J. Howard Edmondson has the shortest life span of any governor, 46 years
- No governor has died in office
- Three governors have been impeached, two were removed from office
- Born in 1896, Robert S. Kerr was the first governor born in what would become Oklahoma
- Born in 1908, Raymond D. Gary was the first governor born in Oklahoma after statehood in 1907
- E. W. Marland has the shortest post-governorship, 2 years
- William J. Holloway has the longest post-governorship, 39 years
- Of the 25 people to hold the office of governor through 2013, twenty-one have been Democrats and four have been Republicans.
- Mary Fallin is the first, and currently, the only female governor
- Two governors are relatives:
- There are currently six living former governors
- Three Lieutenant Governors have been elevated to the governorship
- Four governors have served more than one term
- Two governors have served nonconsecutive terms
- Three governors have served two consecutive terms
- Two governors have resigned
See also 
- About Governor Mary Fallin, Office of the Governor (accessed May 14, 2013)
- Brown, Kenny L. OKLAHOMA TERRITORY, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 12, 2013)
- Savage, Cynthia. Governor's Mansion, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture (accessed May 16, 2013)
- "Election Results" (PDF). Oklahoma State Election Board. Retrieved 2010-11-11.
- Course of Bills, Oklahoma House of Representatives (accessed May 14, 2013)
- Executive Budget, Office of State Finance (accessed May 12, 2013)