There have been 41 governors of Iowa. The longest-serving governor is Terry Branstad, who served from 1983 to 1999, was elected again in 2010 and took office on January 14, 2011. He is the second longest-serving governor in U.S. history, behind George Clinton. The shortest-serving governor was Robert D. Fulton, who served 16 days.
The first state constitution of 1846 created the office of governor, to have a four-year term, with no specific start date for the term. The original constitution of 1857 reduced this term to two years, but an amendment in 1972 increased this back to four years. The 1857 constitution set the start of the term to the second Monday in the January following the election, which was changed to the day after that by a 1988 amendment.
The office of lieutenant governor was created in the 1857 constitution, elected for the same term as the governor. An amendment in 1988 specified that the lieutenant governor would be elected on the same ticket as the governor. If the office of governor becomes vacant, the office devolves upon the lieutenant governor for the remainder of the term or vacancy. Prior to 1857, if the office of governor became vacant, the state secretary of state would act as governor. There is no term limit on the number of terms a governor may serve.
As of May 2015[update], there are four former U.S. governors of Iowa who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Iowa being Robert D. Ray (1969–1983, born 1928). The most recent U.S. governor of Iowa to die was Leo Hoegh (1955–1957), on July 15, 2000. The most recently serving U.S. governor of Iowa to die was Harold Hughes (1963–1969), on October 23, 1996.
^ abChambers was appointed on March 25 to the position of territorial governor, to take office when sworn in. He arrived in the state on May 12 and took office the next day. Lucas was out of the capital at the time and did not formally resign his commission until June 17, per a letter written to U.S. Secretary of StateDaniel Webster.
^ abClark was appointed on November 18; it is unknown what specific date he assumed office.
^Although Ansel Briggs was sworn in as governor of the state on December 3, it remained a territory until December 28.
^There is no official numbering, and different governors have interpreted it differently, based on if repeat terms are numbered. This article includes numbering for every distinct term in office.
^The office of Lieutenant Governor was created in the 1857 constitution.
^Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
^This indicates which terms a governor served; some served in multiple terms, indicated by a number with a trailing ellipsis (for those who started a term but did not finish it) or preceding ellipsis (for those who ended a term but did not start it), while others served for multiple terms, indicated by a given number range.
^Briggs was sworn into office 25 days before the state was formally admitted.
^The election schedule changed during Grimes' term, switching to odd-numbered years and shortening his term by nearly a year.
^Lowe was the first governor elected under the 1857 constitution, which shortened terms to two years.
^Amendment 11 to the Iowa constitution, passed in 1904, shifted the state's election cycle forward one year, such that terms would begin on odd years. This lengthened Cummins' second term to three years, 1904 to 1907.