The incumbent, GovernorTogiola Tulafono, who has held office since 2003, is term-limited and could not seek re-election. Tulafono, who took office after the death of former Governor Tauese Sunia, was elected to his first four-year term in 2004 and re-elected in the 2008 gubernatorial election.
All elections and candidates in American Samoa are nonpartisan, though Faoa Aitofele Sunia is affiliated with the Democrat Party. Slightly less than 17,000 American Samoans were eligible to vote in the 2012 election.
The gubernatorial ticket of Save Liuato Tuitele and Sandra King Young filed a petition in September 2012 against four other campaigns questioning their eligibility to run in the election. Tuitele and Young argued that the other four candidates had not resigned from their government jobs before beginning their political campaigns, as required by law. The four candidates challenged by the Tuitele campaign were gubernatorial candidates Lolo Letalu Matalasi Moliga and Salu Hunkin-Finau, as well as Lt. Governor candidates Taufete'e Faumuina Jr. and Le'i Sonny Thompson.