Governor of Maryland

Governor of Maryland

Thomas Johnson, the first Governor of Maryland after independence. He served from 1777-1779.
The Governor of Maryland heads the executive branch of the government of the U.S. state of Maryland and is commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. He or she is the highest ranking official in the state, and has a broad range of appointive powers in state and local government, as provided by the state's Constitution. Because of the extent of these constitutional powers, the Governor of Maryland has been ranked among the most powerful governors in the United States. [cite news| last =Prah | first =Pamela | title =Massachusetts gov rated most powerful | work =Stateline.Org | date =March 9, 2007 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-25] The current governor is Martin O'Malley, a Democrat and former Mayor of Baltimore who defeated Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich in 2006. [cite web | title =Governor | work=Maryland Manual Online | publisher = Maryland State Archives | date = 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-27 ]

election and qualifications

Like most state chief executives in the United States, the Governor of Maryland is elected by the citizens of Maryland to serve a four-year term. The Constitution of Maryland prohibits a Governor from serving more than two "consecutive" terms.cite web | title=Maryland Governor: Origins and Functions | work = Maryland Manual Online | publisher = Maryland State Archives | date = 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-27] While this does leave the possibility for a governor to run for re-election after waiting at least one term, no former governor has ever run for a third term.cite web| title =Historical List, Governors of Maryland | publisher=Maryland State Archives| url = | accessdate = 2007-06-25] To be eligible to be a candidate, a person must be at least 30 years old and a resident and registered voter in Maryland for the five years preceding the election. If a person meets this minimal requirement, they must file their candidacy with the Maryland State Board of Elections, pay a filing fee, file a financial disclosure, and create a legal campaign finance entity. [cite web | title =Requirements for Filing Candidacy | publisher = Maryland State Board of Elections | url = | accessdate = 2007-07-11 ] The governor, like all state-wide officials in Maryland, is elected in even-numbered years in which an election for President of the United States does not occur.

Functions and responsibilities

As Chief Executive of the State of Maryland, the Governor heads the Executive Branch, which includes all state executive departments and agencies, as well as advisory boards, commissions, committees, and task forces. The main constitutional responsibility of Maryland's Governor, and any other chief executive, is to carry out the business of the state and enforce the laws passed by the legislature. He or she also has some say in these laws, as the Governor has the ability to veto any bill sent to their desk by the Maryland General Assembly, though the Assembly may override their veto. The Governor is also given a number of more specific powers as relates to appropriations of state funds, appointment of state officials, and a variety of less prominent and less commonly utilized powers.


Every year, the Governor must present a proposed budget to the General Assembly. After receiving the proposed budget, the assembly is then allowed to decrease any portion of the budget for the executive branch, but may never increase it or transfer funds between executive departments. They may, however, increase funds for the legislative and judicial branches. [cite web | title =Budget and Fiscal Policy | publisher = Maryland Department of Legislative Services |url= | accessdate = 2007-07-11 ] He or she has the power to veto laws passed by the Assembly, including the line item veto, which can be used to strike certain portions of appropriations bills. The legislature can override a veto by three-fifths (60%) vote of the total number of members in each house.

The Governor also sits on the powerful Board of Public Works, whose other two members are the Comptroller and the Treasurer. This Board has broad powers in overseeing and approving the spending of state funds. The must approve state expenditures of all general funds and capital improvement funds, excluding expenditures for the construction of state roads, bridges, and highways. It has the power to solicit loans on its own accord either to meet a deficit or in anticipation of other revenues, in addition to approving expenditures of funds from loans authorized by the General Assembly. [cite web | title =Maryland Board of Public Works: Origin and Functions | work=Maryland Manual Online | publisher = Maryland State Archives | url = | accessdate = 2007-07-11 ]

Appointment powers

The appointment powers of the governor are extensive as he or she appoints almost all military and civil officers of the State government subject to the advice and consent of the State Senate. The Governor also appoints certain boards and commissions in each county and in Baltimore City, such as local Boards of Elections, commissions notaries public, and appoints persons to fill vacancies in the elected offices of Attorney General and Comptroller. Should a vacancy arise in the General Assembly, the Governor also fills that vacancy, though the Governor must choose from among the recommendations of the local party organization to which the person leaving the vacancy belonged. [cite news | last =Tallman | first =Douglas | title =Lawton appointed to District 18 seat | work =The Gazette | date =2005-10-26 | url = | accessdate =2007-06-27] Any officer appointed by the Governor, except a member of the General Assembly, is removable by him if there is a legitimate cause for removal. Among the most prominent of the Governor's appointees are the 24 secretaries and heads of departments that make up the Governor's cabinet, known as the Executive Council.

Other powers and responsibilities

The Governor is commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State, the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force, except when such forces are called into the national service. In times of public emergency the Governor may exercise emergency powers, including the mobilization of these military forces. In the area of criminal justice, the Governor may grant pardons to criminals, commute the sentences of prisoners, and remit fines and forfeitures for persons who have been convicted, jailed, or fined for violations of state law. In both these areas, and a variety of others, the governor sits on state and interstate boards and commissions with varying powers. The Governor is also obligated to report on the condition of the state at any time during the year, though this traditionally happens in a State of the State Address in January.


In addition to the various departments and agencies under gubernatorial control, the Governor has an executive staff that assist in coordinating the executive duties. This staff is led by a Chief of Staff, and includes five offices: Intergovernmental Relations, Legal Counsel, Legislative and Policy, Press, and the Governor's Office in Washington, DC. The Chief of Staff has a number of deputies to assist in running these departments. The Governor's staff is appointed and therefore largely exempt from state civil service laws.

History and evolution

During the colonial period, Maryland's Proprietors, the Lords Baltimore, who generally remained in England, designated who would serve as governor on their behalf. Between 1692 and 1715 Maryland was a royal colony and the governor was appointed by the English monarchs. The Lords Baltimore regained their charter in 1715 and would continue to choose the governor until the American Revolution.

Under the Maryland Constitution of 1776, the Governor was chosen for one year terms by both houses of the General Assembly. An 1838 constitutional amendment allowed voters to elect the Governor to three-year terms from one of three rotating gubernatorial districts: eastern, southern, and western. At each election, only voters from a single gubernatorial election district selected the Governor. The Maryland Constitution of 1851 lengthened the Governor's term of office from three to four years, which brought elections for Governor in line with elections for federal offices that occur only in even years. Finally, the Constitution of 1864 eliminated the rotating gubernatorial election districts and, since the election of 1868, the Governor has been elected by all the voters of the State.

From 1777 to 1870, the governor lived in Jennings House. Since 1870, the governor has lived in Government House, a Georgian mansion adjacent to the State House. In addition to being living space for the Governor's family, Government House has a number of public rooms that are used by the Governor on occasions of state. [cite web | title=Government House, A Maryland Treasure | publisher = Maryland State Archives | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-27]

Spiro T. Agnew, who was Governor of Maryland from 1967-1969, later served as Vice President of the United States under Richard Nixon, and is to date the highest-ranking Marylander in the history of the United States. In 1971, the office of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, which existed for only a few years in the 1860s, was recreated by constitutional amendment. The Lt. Governor, who only has those duties that the governor assigns to him or her, is elected on the same ticket and to the same term as the governor, and succeeds to the governorship if there is a vacancy in that office. [cite web | title=Lieutenant Governor: Origins and Functions | work = Maryland Manual Online | publisher = Maryland State Archives | date = 2006 | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-27] No Lieutenant Governor of Maryland has ever been elected in his or her own right as Governor.

To date, Maryland has yet to have a female governor. However, women were the runners-up in three gubernatorial elections (1994, 1998, and 2002). [cite web | title=Elections by Year | publisher = Maryland State Board of Elections | url = | accessdate = 2007-06-27] In addition, one woman has served as Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, under Gov. Parris Glendening from 1995 to 2003. Another woman, Kristen Cox, then Secretary of Disabilities, unsuccessfully ran for Lt. Governor with incumbent Governor Robert Ehrlich, when then-Lt. Governor Michael Steele ran for the US Senate. Cox is unique not only because she is a woman, but also because she is legally blind. [cite news | coauthors=Otto, Mary and Aratani, Lori | title =Ehrlich Picks Cabinet Member Cox for Ticket | work =The Washington Post | date =2006-06-30 | url = | accessdate =2007-06-27]

ee also

*List of colonial governors of Maryland
*List of Governors of Maryland
*Government of Maryland
*Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
*Maryland gubernatorial elections


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