Governor of South Dakota

Governor of South Dakota

The Governor of South Dakota is the head of the executive branch of the government of South Dakota. The current governor is M. Michael Rounds, a Republican elected in 2002.

Powers and duties

The governor holds numerous powers and duties, which in many ways are analogous to those held by the President of the United States:
*The governor serves as a spokesman for the state, promoting business and economic development interests.
*The governor is actively involved in the legislative process; he may introduce legislation, and has the power to veto bills passed by the legislature (though vetoes may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of each house).
*The governor oversees the executive branch, and appoints the members of his cabinet. The governor also appoints the members of a wide array of state boards and commissions.
*The governor is the commander-in-chief of the South Dakota National Guard.
*The governor may grant pardons to those convicted of criminal offenses under state law.
*The governor fills vacancies that occur in the state legislature, the state judiciary, and other state constitutional offices. The governor also fills vacancies in U.S. Senate seats from South Dakota.
*The governor is the titular head of his political party.


From 1889 until 1974, the governor served a two-year term. Until the 1940's, the governor was allowed to serve unlimited terms; since that time, governors have been limited to two consecutive terms. Beginning in 1974, the governor is elected to a four-year term, and may serve two consecutive terms. The governor is elected on a ticket with the Lieutenant Governor.

The first governor of South Dakota was Arthur C. Mellette, who was also the last governor of the Dakota Territory.

Two of South Dakota's governors have left office before their term expired. In 1978, Richard F. Kneip resigned office six months before the expiration of his term to accept an appointment as United States Ambassador to Singapore. On April 19, 1993, George S. Mickelson was killed in a plane crash near Dubuque, Iowa; Mickelson is the only South Dakota governor to die in office. Mickelson and his father, George T. Mickelson, are the only father-son duo to serve as governor.

South Dakota's longest serving governor was Bill Janklow. Janklow is the only person to complete two four-year terms, and he did it twice, serving from 1979 to 1987 and again from 1995 to 2003. Janklow is also the only person to serve non-consecutive terms as governor.

Several governors have gone on to serve in other high offices. Coe I. Crawford, Peter Norbeck, William H. McMaster, William J. Bulow, and Harlan J. Bushfield followed their tenures as governor by serving in the United States Senate. Bill Janklow served briefly in the United States House of Representatives following his second stint as governor.

List of Governors of South Dakota

"See: List of Governors of South Dakota

ee also

* South Dakota
* Lieutenant Governor of South Dakota
* South Dakota State Legislature
* Governor (generally)

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