List of Governors of Iowa
|Governor of Iowa|
Seal of the State of Iowa
|Term length||Four years, no term limits|
|Inaugural holder||Ansel Briggs; 1846|
|Formation||Constitution of Iowa|
|Succession||Every four years, unless re-elected|
The Governor of Iowa is the chief executive of the U.S. state of Iowa. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Iowa's state government and is charged with enforcing state laws. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Iowa State Legislature, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment. The governor is also the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.
There have been 41 individuals who served as governor of Iowa, including the current governor, Kim Reynolds who was sworn in on May 24, 2017. The longest-serving governor is Terry Branstad, who served from 1983 to 1999, and then again from 2011 to 2017. He is the longest-serving governor in U.S. history, surpassing the previous record of 21 years set by George Clinton of New York. The shortest-serving governor was Robert D. Fulton, who served 16 days.
List of Governors
Governors of the Territory of Iowa
- For the period before Iowa Territory was formed, see the list of Governors of Wisconsin Territory.
Iowa Territory was formed on July 4, 1838, from Wisconsin Territory. It had three governors appointed by the President of the United States. The first governor did not arrive for six weeks after the territory had been created; in the interim, territorial secretary William B. Conway acted as governor.
|#||Governor||Term in office||Appointed by|
|1||Robert Lucas||August 15, 1838
May 13, 1841[a]
|Martin Van Buren|
|2||John Chambers||May 13, 1841[a]
November 18, 1845[b]
|William Henry Harrison|
|3||James Clarke||November 18, 1845[b]
December 28, 1846[c]
|James K. Polk|
Governors of the State of Iowa
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 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.
Living former U.S. governors of Iowa
As of May 2017[update], there are five 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, born 1908), on July 15, 2000. The most recently serving U.S. governor of Iowa to die was Harold Hughes (1963–1969, born 1922), on October 23, 1996.
|Governor||Term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Robert D. Fulton||1969||May 13, 1929|
|Robert D. Ray||1969–1983||September 26, 1928|
|November 17, 1946|
|Tom Vilsack||1999–2007||December 13, 1950|
|Chet Culver||2007–2011||January 25, 1966|
- Chambers 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 State Daniel Webster.
- Clark 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.
- Briggs was sworn into office 25 days before the state was formally admitted.
- The election schedule changed with this term, switching to odd-numbered years and shortening the term by nearly a year.
- Terms were shortened from four to two years beginning with this term.
- No source appears to know which date Walden resigned, just that it was to take an elected seat in the United States House of Representatives for a term beginning March 4.
- Kirkwood resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate; as lieutenant governor, Newbold succeeded him.
- All sources state Boies was sworn in on February 27, 1890, with no explanation given for the delay; it appears from primary sources that the state legislature was deadlocked, performing over one hundred votes to name the speaker, and the certification of election results was delayed, with Larrabee remaining in office until his successor was certified.
- Represented the Republican Party.
- The election schedule changed with this term, switching to odd-numbered years and lenthening the term by nearly a year.
- Cummins resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate; as lieutenant governor, Garst succeeded him.
- Beardsley died in office; as lieutenant governor, Elthon succeeded him.
- Represented the Democratic Party.
- Hughes resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate; as lieutenant governor, Fulton succeeded him.
- Terms were lenthened from two to four years beginning with this term.
- Branstad resigned to become United States Ambassador to China; as lieutenant governor, Reynolds succeeded him.
- Governor Reynolds' term expires on January 11, 2019.
- Reynolds appointed Adam Gregg as Acting Lieutenant Governor but, while he has the full powers and salary of the office, he is not in the line of succession.
- "Constitution of the State of Iowa". Iowa General Assembly. 1857. Archived from the original on July 3, 2011. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "Amendments to the Constitution of Iowa". Iowa General Assembly. 1998. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "Constitution of the State of Iowa". Iowa General Assembly. 1846. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- IA Const. art. IV, § 1
- IA Const. art. IV, § 9
- IA Const. art III, § 16
- IA Const. art. IV, § 11
- IA Const., art. IV, § 16
- IA Const. art. IV, § 7
- Shambaugh, Benjamin F., ed. (1903). "The Messages and Proclamations of the Governors of Iowa". The Messages and Proclamations of the Governors of Iowa. 1. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa. p. 208.
- Executive Journal of Iowa 1838–1841, Governor Robert Lucas. State Historical Society of Iowa. 1906. pp. 277–279.
- Benjamin F. Gue (1903). Iowa biography. Century History Company. p. 52.
- 1846 Const. article V, § 2
- IA Const. art. IV, § 2
- IA Const. amendment 32
- IA Const. art. IV, § 15
- IA Const. amendment 42
- IA Const. art. IV, § 3
- IA Const. amendment 41
- IA Const. art. IV, § 17
- 1846 Const. art V, § 18
- "No 41st Governor for Iowa?". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids). November 5, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2014.
- Secretary Of State, Iowa (1951). Iowa Official Register – 1951–1952. p. 97.
- Journal of the House of the General Assembly of the State of Iowa. 1890. pp. 1–95. Retrieved September 6, 2017.