Governor of Michigan

The Governor of Michigan is the chief executive of the U.S. state of Michigan. The current governor is Gretchen Whitmer, a member of the Democratic Party, who was inaugurated on January 1, 2019, as the state's 49th governor. She is eligible for a second term under Michigan's term limits, which limit a governor to only two, four-year terms.

Governor of Michigan
Seal of Michigan Governor
Seal of the Governor
Flag of the Governor of Michigan
Standard of the Governor
Governor Whitmer Portrait
Gretchen Whitmer

since January 1, 2019
StyleHer Excellency[1]
ResidenceMichigan Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years, renewable once
PrecursorGovernor of Michigan Territory
Inaugural holderStevens T. Mason
FormationNovember 3, 1835
DeputyLieutenant Governor of Michigan


Governors of Michigan, as well as their lieutenant governors, must be United States citizens who have resided in Michigan for the four years preceding election and must be at least 30 years of age.[2] A constitutional amendment adopted by the voters at the 2010 general election provides that a person is ineligible for any elected office, including governor and lieutenant governor, if convicted of a felony involving dishonesty, deceit, fraud, or a breach of the public trust, and if the conviction were related to the person's official capacity while holding any elective office or position of employment in local, State, or Federal government.[3]

Elections and term of office

From statehood until the election of 1966, governors were elected to two-year terms. Elections are held in November and the governor assumes office the following January, except in the case of death or resignation. From statehood until 1851, elections were held in odd-numbered years. A new state constitution was drafted in 1850 and took effect in 1851. As part of the process bringing the constitution into effect, there was a single one-year term of governor in 1851. Thereafter elections were held in even years.

The constitution adopted in 1963 changed the governor's term to four years, starting in 1967. Since then, gubernatorial elections have been offset by two years between the U.S. presidential elections (e.g., Presidential elections were in 2008 and 2012, while gubernatorial elections in that time period were in 2010 and 2014). Gubernatorial elections are held concurrently with State Senate elections. The winner of the gubernatorial election takes office at noon on January 1 of the year following the election.

In 1992, an amendment to the Michigan constitution imposed a lifetime term limit of two four-year terms for the office of governor. Prior to this, they were not limited as to how many terms they could serve; John Engler, the governor at the time, served three terms as his first term occurred prior to the restriction. Engler was reelected in 1994 and 1998 before being term limited in 2002.

Powers and duties

The governor has responsibilities to:

  • sign or veto laws passed by the legislature;[4] including a line item veto
  • reorganize state executive government agencies and departments;[4]
  • appoint, with advice and consent of the Senate, and oversee most department heads;[4]
  • appoint judges, subject to ratification by the electorate;
  • appoint members of boards and commissions;[4]
  • propose a state budget;[4]
  • give the annual State of the State address;[4]
  • sue other executives to comply with the law;
  • command the state militia; and
  • grant pardons for any crime, except cases involving impeachment by the legislature.

The governor appoints the members of the governing boards of 10 of the state's 13 public universities[a] and department commissions.

History of the office

Stevens T Mason
Governor Stevens T. Mason, the first governor of the State of Michigan

Forty-nine people have been governor of the state. Prior to statehood, there were five governors of the Michigan Territory. Stevens T. Mason, Michigan's first governor, also served as a territorial governor. He was elected governor at age 23 as a member of the Democratic Party in 1835 and served until 1840. Mason was the youngest state governor in United States history.

Jennifer Granholm became the first female Governor of Michigan on January 1, 2003, when she succeeded John Engler; she served for 8 years, until January 1, 2011. Granholm was born in Canada. Former Governor George Romney was born in Mexico.

See also


  1. ^ The Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University and the Board of Governors of Wayne State University are elected statewide. The Dearborn and Flint campuses of the University of Michigan lack separate governing boards as they are considered a part of the University of Michigan.


  1. ^ Macomb, Alex (1837). "No. 20: Letter from Major General Macomb, to His Excellency the Governor of Michigan, Accompanying a Copy of Military Tactics". Documents Accompanying the Journal of the Senate. Detroit: John S. Bagg, State Printer. p. 167 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Michigan Constitution: Article V, Sec. 22—Governor and lieutenant governor, qualifications
  3. ^ Michigan Constitution: Article XI, Sec. 8 Convictions for certain felonies; eligibility for elective office or certain positions of public employment
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Chapter 2: About State Government" (PDF). Michigan in Brief: 1998–99. Public Sector Consultants. 1999.
1954 Michigan gubernatorial election

The 1954 Michigan gubernatorial election took place on November 2, 1954, to elect the governor of Michigan.

1974 Michigan gubernatorial election

The 1974 Michigan gubernatorial election was held on November 5, 1974. William Milliken was elected to his second term as Governor of Michigan.

1986 Michigan gubernatorial election

The Michigan gubernatorial election of 1986 was held on November 4.

The Democrats nominated incumbent Governor James Blanchard.

The Republicans nominated Wayne County executive William Lucas, who made history by being the first African American nominee for either major party for Governor of Michigan.Blanchard was re-elected, winning the election with 68.1% of the vote.

Frank Fitzgerald

Frank Dwight Fitzgerald (January 27, 1885 – March 16, 1939) was an American politician. He was elected as the 34th and 36th Governor of Michigan and was the only Michigan governor to die in office.

Frank Murphy

William Francis Murphy (April 13, 1890 – July 19, 1949) was a Democratic politician and jurist from Michigan. He was named to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1940 after a political career that included stints as Governor of Michigan and Mayor of Detroit. He also served as the last Governor General of the Philippine Islands and the first High Commissioner of the Philippines.

Born in Huron County, Michigan, Murphy graduated from the University of Michigan Law School in 1914. After serving in the United States Army during World War I, Murphy served as a federal attorney and trial judge. He served as Mayor of Detroit from 1930 to 1933 before accepting appointment as Governor-General of the Philippine Islands. He defeated incumbent Republican Governor Frank Fitzgerald in Michigan's 1936 gubernatorial election and served a single term as Governor of Michigan. Murphy lost re-election to Fitzgerald in 1938 and accepted appointment as the United States Attorney General the following year.

In 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Murphy to the Supreme Court to fill a vacancy caused by the death of Pierce Butler. Murphy served on the Court from 1940 until his death in 1949, and was succeeded by Tom C. Clark. Murphy wrote the Court's majority opinion in SEC v. W. J. Howey Co., and wrote a dissenting opinion in Korematsu v. United States.

G. Mennen Williams

Gerhard Mennen "Soapy" Williams (February 23, 1911 – February 2, 1988) was the 41st Governor of Michigan, elected in 1948 and serving six two-year terms in office. He later served as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs under President John F. Kennedy and Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

A staunch liberal, Williams advocated for civil rights, racial equality, and justice for the poor. As assistant secretary of state, his remark that "what we want for the Africans is what they want for themselves," reported in the press as "Africa for the Africans," sparked controversy at the time.Williams was described by the Chicago Tribune as a political reformer who "helped forge the alliance between Democrats, blacks and union voters in the late 1940s that began a strong liberal tradition in Michigan."

Garlin Gilchrist

Garlin Gilchrist II (born September 25, 1982) is an American politician and activist who is currently serving as lieutenant governor of Michigan. He is a member of the Democratic Party.

George W. Welsh

George W. Welsh was a Republican politician from Michigan who served as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan, in the Michigan House of Representatives including as its Speaker during the 52nd Legislature, and as the mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan.Born in Glasgow, Scotland on March 27, 1883 to Joseph and Elizabeth Welsh, George Welsh operated a printing business and was the publisher of the farm magazine "The Fruit Belt."

Welsh's political career began in 1917 when he was elected to the State House representing Kent County, where he served until 1924 and as Speaker in his final two years. Alex J. Groesbeck selected Welsh to be his running mate for his successful campaign for Governor of Michigan in 1924. Welsh attended the Republican National Convention in Cleveland that year which nominated Calvin Coolidge for President of the United States.

He was a candidate in the primary for governor in both 1928, losing to Fred W. Green, and 1932, losing to Wilber M. Brucker.

Welsh was elected mayor of Grand Rapids in 1938, serving for just over a decade.

When he served as the city manager of Grand Rapids, Welsh masterminded the construction of the pool at Richmond Park. He also developed a plan during the Great Depression whereby the city would provide jobs for needy residents, paying them in scrip-type money which could be redeemed for food, clothing, and other necessities at stores in the city. His plan preceded Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal and came to an end when federal programs became available.

Gretchen Whitmer

Gretchen Esther Whitmer (born August 23, 1971) is an American politician serving as the 49th and current governor of Michigan. A member of the Democratic Party, she served as a Michigan State Representative from 2001 to 2006 and Michigan State Senator from 2006 to 2015. Whitmer won the gubernatorial election on November 6, 2018, defeating Republican nominee Bill Schuette, and was sworn into office on January 1, 2019.

Hazen S. Pingree

Hazen Stuart Pingree (August 30, 1840 – June 18, 1901) was a four-term Republican mayor of Detroit (1889–1897) and the 24th Governor of the U.S. State of Michigan (1897–1901). A Yankee who migrated from New England, he was a successful Republican businessman turned politician.

As a businessman turned politician, Pingree was elected mayor in 1889 after a colorful campaign in which Pingree revealed his tolerance by making a circuit of saloons. Pingree added to the old stock Yankee Republican base by making large inroads into the German and Canadian elements. He was reelected in 1891, 1893 and 1895. Warning repeatedly against the dangers of monopolistic corporations, he launched nationally visible crusades against Detroit's streetcar, gas, electric, and telephone companies. He successfully forced rate reductions that won him widespread popularity. He won public approval for a citizen-owned electric light plant, and became a national spokesman for municipal ownership and public regulation of utilities and street railways. When the nationwide Panic of 1893 caused a severe depression, Pingree gained support by opening empty lots to garden farming launching Pingree's "Potato Patch Plan," initially financed by Pingree, who sold his prize horse to pay for the farming tools and seeds. Pingree was a Republican, whose policies competed for support of the Populist Party voters and labor union members. He supported the gold standard in 1896, and worked to carry Michigan for William McKinley over silverite William Jennings Bryan in the intensely competitive 1896 U.S. presidential election. Pingree was on the ballot, too, and was elected governor of Michigan. As governor, he succeeded in forcing passage of the nation's first major statewide reappraisal of railroad and corporate property, with intent on implementing taxes. This led to a rational basis for railroad regulation and other trust busting ideas launched by the Republican Party. A survey of scholars in 1999 ranked Pingree as the fourth best mayor in all of American history.

James Blanchard

James Johnston Blanchard (born August 8, 1942) is an American politician and former diplomat from Michigan. A Democrat, Blanchard has served in the United States House of Representatives, as the 45th Governor of Michigan, and as United States Ambassador to Canada.

Blanchard attended the public schools in Ferndale, Michigan. He received a B.A. from Michigan State University in 1964. He also earned an MBA from the same school in 1965. Blanchard received a J.D. from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1968 and was admitted to the Michigan bar in the same year. He commenced practice in Lansing and served as legal advisor to the Michigan Secretary of State, 1968–1969. He was Assistant Attorney General of Michigan, 1969–1974, administrative assistant to the attorney general, 1970–1971, and assistant deputy attorney general, 1971–1972. In 1974 he joined the law firm of Beer and Boltz, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

James H. Brickley

James H. Brickley (November 15, 1928 – September 28, 2001) was the 54th and 56th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan and a justice of the Michigan Supreme Court from 1982 to 1999. He was a Republican.

Joseph R. Williams

Joseph Rickelson Williams (November 14, 1808 – June 15, 1861) was an American politician, a Republican Michigan Senate Senator, and 14th Lieutenant Governor of Michigan. He was also the first president for the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the first Land-Grant Institution to be established in the United States and now one of the largest universities in the United States, Michigan State University.

List of Governors of Michigan

The Governor of Michigan is the head of the executive branch of Michigan's state government and serves as the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws; the power to either approve or veto appropriation bills passed by the Michigan Legislature; the power to convene the legislature; and the power to grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment. He or she is also empowered to reorganize the executive branch of the state government.Michigan was originally part of French and British holdings, and administered by their colonial governors. After becoming part of the United States, numerous areas of what is today Michigan were originally part of the Northwest Territory, Indiana Territory and Illinois Territory, and administered by territorial governors. In 1805, the Michigan Territory was created, and five men served as territorial governors, until Michigan was granted statehood in 1837. Forty-eight individuals have held the position of state governor. The first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, served from 2003 to 2011.

After Michigan gained statehood, governors held the office for a two-year term, until the 1963 Michigan Constitution changed the term to four years. The number of times an individual could hold the office was unlimited until a 1992 constitutional amendment imposed a lifetime term limit of two four-year governorships. The longest-serving governor in Michigan's history was William Milliken, who was promoted from lieutenant governor after Governor George W. Romney resigned, then was elected to three further successive terms.

List of Lieutenant Governors of Michigan

The Lieutenant Governor of Michigan is the second-ranking official in U.S. state of Michigan, behind the governor. The holder of this office is afforded the courtesy title of the Honorable for life.

The current lieutenant governor is Garlin Gilchrist, a Democrat, who has held the office since January 1, 2019.

Luren Dickinson

Luren Dudley Dickinson (April 15, 1859 – April 22, 1943) was an American politician. He served as the 37th Governor of Michigan from 1939 to 1941. He holds the record of the oldest person to ever serve as Michigan governor, beginning at the age of 79 and leaving office at the age of 81, as well as the only Michigan governor to enter office upon the death of an incumbent.

Martha Griffiths

Martha Wright Griffiths (January 29, 1912 – April 22, 2003) was an American lawyer and judge before being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1954. Griffiths was the first woman to serve on the House Committee on Ways and Means and the first woman elected to the United States Congress from Michigan as a member of the Democratic Party. She was also the person "instrumental" in including the prohibition of sex discrimination under Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In 1982, Griffiths was also the first female elected as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan. (Matilda Dodge Wilson had been appointed the first female Lieutenant Governor of Michigan in 1939.)

Rick Snyder

Richard Dale Snyder (born August 19, 1958) is an American politician, business executive, venture capitalist, lawyer and accountant who served as the 48th governor of Michigan from 2011 to 2019. He is a member of the Republican Party.From 2005 to 2007, Snyder served as the chairman of the board of Gateway, Inc. Prior to his election as governor, he co-founded Ardesta, LLC, a venture capital firm and HealthMedia, Inc., a digital health coaching company, both based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He gained national attention during the Flint water crisis, in which he was accused of mishandling the situation; however, no legal charges were lodged against him.Snyder was considered a possible Republican Party candidate for Vice President of the United States in 2012, although ultimately Paul Ryan was selected.On February 3, 2014, Snyder announced his candidacy for re-election as Governor of Michigan in 2014. He was elected to a second term in the November 2014 vote, defeating his major challenger, Democrat Mark Schauer. Snyder was term limited and could not seek re-election in 2018. He was succeeded on New Year's Day of 2019 by Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.

Thomas Read (politician)

Thomas Read was a Republican politician from Michigan who served in the Michigan House of Representatives including as its Speaker during the 50th Legislature, as Lieutenant Governor of Michigan under Alex J. Groesbeck, as a member of the Michigan State Senate, and as Michigan Attorney General.Born in Rochester, New York of English and Scottish ancestry to Thomas and Jane Read on May 28, 1881, Read was either a candidate for or served in nearly all state-level offices in Michigan (he was never a candidate for or elected Secretary of State). He was a candidate in the primary for Governor of Michigan in 1924, losing to Alex J. Groesbeck, and 1940, losing to Luren Dickinson.

Read was a presidential elector for Michigan in 1928, casting a ballot for Herbert Hoover, and a delegate to the 1940 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia which nominated Wendell Willkie (who eventually lost to Franklin D. Roosevelt. Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg of Michigan was a candidate for the nomination at that convention.

The elementary school in his hometown of Shelby is named for Read.

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