Data on Gubernatorial Succession

The principal and shared constitutional responsibility of every gubernatorial successor is to be the first official in the line of succession to the governor’s office.  Gubernatorial succession may occur permanently, temporarily (gubernatorial disability or travel), or through voter recall.   This page contains data on state government gubernatorial succession including information on succession to the office of lieutenant governor, if it becomes vacant.

Chart of Gubernatorial Successions (6/1/18)
Successions to Governor since 1980 (as of June 1, 2018).

How Governors Who Have Succeeded to the Top Job Have Performed Over the Years (2017)
2018 Could See a Number of Successor Governors Running for Full Terms in Office (2017)
By:  Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Geoffrey Skelley (5/18/17)
A sizable number of gubernatorial successor incumbents have sought election in their own right in election cycles since 1946 (post WWII). Their 63% election success rate is better than the success rate of appointed U.S. Senators seeking election in the period (49%) and compares favorably to the 74% reelection rate of elected incumbent governors. (Printable PDF Click Here)

Lieutenant Governors Become Governor Twice as Often as Attorneys General (2010)
Lieutenant Governors Twice as Successful as Attorneys General in Becoming Governor (2010)
By:  Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Larry Sabato (4/22/10)
In the last quarter-century, fully 22% of the state No. 2’s became No. 1.   Since 1984, only 11% of attorneys general became governor.   This is precisely half the gubernatorial success rate of lieutenant governors. (Printable PDF Click Here)

Lieutenant Governors Become Governor at a Greater Rate than any Local, State, or Federal Official (2006) Analysis: Governors and Past Elected Officials (1980 – 2006) (2006) concluded that the office of lieutenant governor has a greater success rate of its occupants becoming governor than any other local, state or Congressional office.  Click the title above for the complete white paper.  No other city, state, or Congressional office is more successful than the office of lieutenant as a springboard to governor.

How Many Governors First Served as Lieutenant Governor? (2006)
Analysis: Governors who Once Served as Lieutenant Governor (1980 – 2006) (2006) confirmed that for the past 100 years, approximately one in every four governors first served as governor or first in line of succession.

Analysis of State Government Gubernatorial Succession Law Shows Gaps & Inconsistencies (2010)Analysis: State Government Succession Law  (2010) Despite the increasing rate of gubernatorial succession and federal directives to develop proven succession plans, states are not readily addressing known gaps and conflicts in gubernatorial succession laws.

States’ Lines of Gubernatorial Succession (excel chart) (2011)
States’ Lines of Gubernatorial Succession (Excel chart) (May 2011)
The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA)

Succession to Positions of Governor and Lt. Governor (2009)
Succession to Positions of Governor and Lieutenant Governor (50-state)
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), February 2009 (full statute references)
Visit www.ncsl.org for information on NCSL and more research.

Provisions for Disability Based Gubernatorial Succession in the 50 States (2005)
Provisions for Disability Based Gubernatorial Succession in the 50 States
The Council of State Governments (CSG), 2005 (chart)
Linked to the CSG Knowledge Center, The Book of the States 2005, Table A, pps. 213- 214
Visit www.csg.org for more information on CSG and more research.

Recall of a Governor (2016)
NCSL Recall of State Officials , March of 2016
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)
Regarding possible gaps in succession law as noted in Analysis: State Government Succession Law, this chart details recall law in various states. Visit www.ncsl.org for more information on NCSL and more research.

Provisions for High Court Removal of a Governor (2008)
Gubernatorial Removal and the State High Courts
The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), December 12, 2008
A brief on which states provide an opportunity for a petition to the state’s high court to remove a governor.  Visit www.ncsconline.org for information on NCSC and more research.