The Governor's Chronicle: 2014 Edition
The position of Governor in the United States dates back from the pre-independence period, when the British crown appointed Royal Governors to oversee and manage its interest in the colonies. Aided by a Privy Council, the office of the Royal Governor is viewed as possessing direct royal authority, backed by the might of the British Navy. The office grew gradually in strength and importance, and its authority expanded from trade and customs regulations to judicial matters and the enforcement of royal policies. By the early 18th century, provincial assemblies were created to further strengthen the executive authority of the Royal Governors, which by the middle of the century, had grown to eight. These assemblies also provided a measure of control against any possible abuses of power by the Royal Governors.
After independence, the office of Governor was established by the original 13 states to act as the chief executive of the local government. While there were several federal appointments during the early days of independence, the responsibility was soon taken over by state legislatures. Towards the middle of the 19th century, the elections of governors were decided by the citizenry, a practice that continues today. However, the individual states’ requirement and political evolution have rendered the process, criterion and scope of authority of the governors considerably varied.
Today, each of the 50 states elects a governor to lead the local government. While the role of governors is largely ceremonial, they are also seen as a symbol of the sovereignty of the states within the construct of the federal union.
These governors generally serve a four-year term, with the exception of New Hampshire and Vermont, where the term is only two years. However, in 13 American states, a governor may serve for an unlimited number of terms. Other states allow between one to four terms, although some have limitations on consecutive terms.
Gubernatorial elections are governed by the constitution of the individual states. In 2014, the citizens of 36 states will be going to the voting booth to elect their governors.