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Governor of California

The Governor of California is the highest executive authority in the state government, whose responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that state laws are enforced and government runs smoothly.

The office of Governor of California was created in 1850, after California became a formal state in the American union. Previously, there had been American military governors of the Californian territory, as well as a President of the short-lived California Republic, and numerous Mexican governors, from when California was part of that country.

At the time of this writing, the current governor is Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican elected in an October 2003 special election. The next gubernatorial election is scheduled for November 2006 for a term lasting from January 2007 to January 2011.

Leland Stanford, 8th Governor (1861-1863)
Leland Stanford, 8th Governor (1861-1863)

The governor has the power to veto legislation, overrideable by a two-thirds majority in both houses of the legislature, and can veto particular items from an appropriations bill while leaving others intact (see line-item veto). Law-enforcement powers include the ability to grant pardons and commute sentences, as well as serving as the Commander-in-Chief of the state militia.

Governors are elected by popular ballot and serve terms of four years, with a maximum of two terms. The Lieutenant Governor of California is elected at the same election, but not jointly as the running mate of the gubernatorial candidate. Commonly, the governor and lieutenant governor are of different parties, as is now the case with Governor Arnold A. Schwarzenegger (Republican) and Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante (Democrat), and from 1991-1999 with Governor Peter B. Wilson (Republican), and then-Lieutenant Governor Joseph G. "Gray" Davis Jr. (Democrat); and from 1983-1991 with Governor George Deukmejian (Republican) and Lieutenant Governor Leo T. McCarthy (Democrat). This occasionally becomes significant, as the California Constitution provides that all the powers of the governor fall to the lieutenant governor whenever the governor is not in the State of California, with the lieutenant governor often signing or vetoing legislation, or making political appointments, whenever the governor leaves the state.

If the governor is unpopular to the point where the citizenry is not content to wait for the next scheduled gubernatoral election, they can petition the state to hold a premature recall vote to unseat the governor, simultaneously with an election for a replacement. The governor may also be impeached by the state legislature.

The 2003 California recall began with a petition drive that successfully forced sitting Democratic Governor Davis into a special recall election. It marked the first time in California's history that a governor faced a recall election. He was subsequently voted out of office, becoming just the second governor in U.S. history to be recalled. He was replaced by Republican Schwarzenegger.

See also: List of Governors of California

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Last updated: 11-07-2004 17:41:43