To be elected governor, a person must be at least 30 years old, and must have been a citizen of the United States for twenty years and a resident of Mississippi for at least five years at the time of inauguration. The Constitution of Mississippi, ratified in 1890, calls for a four-year term for the governor. He may be reelected once. The original constitution of 1817 had only a two-year term for governor; this was expanded to four years in the 1868 constitution. The lieutenant governor is elected at the same time as the governor and serves as president of the Mississippi Senate. When the office of governor becomes vacant for any reason, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term.
Since Mississippi became a state, it has had 64 governors, including 55 Democrats and 5 Republicans. Democrats dominated after retaking control of the state legislature; they passed a constitution in 1890 that disfranchised most African Americans, excluding them from the political system for nearly 70 years, and made it a one-party state. The state's longest-serving governor was John M. Stone, who served two terms over ten years (his second term was extended to six years by a transitional provision in the 1890 constitution). The shortest-serving governor was James Whitfield, who served 11⁄2 months from 1851 to 1852. The current governor is RepublicanPhil Bryant, who took office January 10, 2012.
This is a table of congressional, confederate, other governorships, and other federal offices held by governors. All representatives and senators mentioned represented Mississippi except where noted. * denotes those offices which the governor resigned to take.
As of May 2015[update], there are four former governors who are currently living at this time, the oldest U.S. governor of Mississippi being William Winter (1980–1984, born 1923). The most recent U.S. governor of Mississippi to die was William Allain (1984–1988) on December 2, 2013. The most recently serving U.S. governor of Mississippi to die was Kirk Fordice, who left office on January 11, 2000, and died on September 7, 2004 at the age of seventy.
^The 1832 constitution abolished the office of lieutenant governor; the office was reinstated in 1868.
^ abAs president of the state senate, filled term until next election.
^Resigned following an arrest for violating neutrality laws by assisting with the liberation of Cuba. He was found not guilty, but the political fallout led to his resignation.
^As president of the senate, filled term until his senate term expired.
^ abAs president of the senate, filled unexpired term.
^Resigned due to political tension over secession.
^A constitutional amendment passed during McRae's second term moved the gubernatorial inauguration date from January to the prior November, shortening his term by two months. The date was restored to January in the 1868 constitution.
^Charles Clark's term effective ended when he was arrested by Union forces.
^Impeached; made a deal with the legislature to resign, and all charges were dropped.
^As president of the senate, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right; since both the governor and lieutenant governor had been impeached, with the governor resigning and lieutenant governor being removed from office, Stone was next in line for governor.
^The 1890 electoral term was extended to six years under the 1890 constitution in order to facilitate changes in the executive department.
^As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.