Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on the role of governors in Texas. An emphasis is placed on the various powers, and their influence on the legislative agenda. Historically, Texas governors have shared some common characteristics. Most Texas governors have been White, Protestant, and wealthy. On the other hand, the voters of Texas have embraced political outsiders trying to win the governorship. By tapping into Texans’ basic distrust of government and belief in individual freedoms, a variety of colorful characters have won office throughout Texas history. The qualifications to serve as the Texas governor are not difficult to meet, and both experienced politicians working their way up the political ambition ladder and newcomers have occupied the office.

Texans’ distrust for authority and Reconstruction-era experiences led the framers of the Constitution of 1876 to establish a relatively weak office of the governor. While Texas governors may tend to become national figures, they are saddled with comparatively weak formal powers. The executive branch of Texas divides powers and responsibilities among officials who win office through their own independent, partisan campaigns. The governor has had limited appointment powers in the state, matched by weak budgetary powers. However, the powers have expanded today. Often, governors make use of the short legislative sessions to make interim appointments that require Senate confirmation the next session. In addition, Texas governors develop informal powers to gain more political influence on policy formulation and implementation.