Gubernatorial Elections and Qualifications

Learning Objectives

By the end of this section, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand how the Governor of Texas is elected
  • Understand the qualifications to be Governor

Gubernatorial Elections

The state’s first constitution in 1845 established the office of governor, to serve for two years, but no more than four years out of every six (essentially a limit of no more than two consecutive terms). The 1861 secessionist constitution set the term start date at the first Monday in the November following the election. The 1866 constitution, adopted just after the American Civil War, increased terms to 4 years, but no more than 8 years out of every 12, and moved the start date to the first Thursday after the organization of the legislature, or “as soon thereafter as practicable.” The Reconstruction constitution of 1869 removed the limit on terms, Texas remains one of 14 states with no gubernatorial term limit. The present constitution of 1876 shortened terms back to two years, but a 1972 amendment increased it again to four years.

Texas elects governors in the midterm elections, that is, even years that are not presidential election years. For Texas 2018, 2022, 2026, 2030 and 2034 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the “on the first Tuesday after the organization of the Legislature, or as soon thereafter as practicable.”

If two candidates tie for the most votes or if an election is contested, a joint session of the legislature shall cast ballots to resolve the issue.

The 48th and current governor is Republican Greg Abbott. He assumed office on January 20, 2015, succeeding Rick Perry (R). Perry was the longest-serving governor in state history with a tenure lasting from 2000 to 2015. Abbott previously served as the Attorney General of Texas from 2002 to 2015.

Qualifications

Article IV, Section 4 of the Texas Constittion sets the following qualifications for Governor:

  1. Must be at least 30 years old;
  2. Resident of Texas for at least 5 years immediately before the election;
  3. Must be a U.S. citizen.