Chapter Summary

Chapter 8 provides a detailed discussion of the role of governors in the legislative process and the variation in gubernatorial powers among states. Governors serve important political and legislative roles. Each acts as a chief legislator, a party chief, and a chief spokesperson for his or her state. They must be able to interact with a variety of administrative agencies at multiple levels of government. Increasingly, they are forced to interact with the media and promote social and economic development within their states. This reflects the expansion of formal gubernatorial powers and responsibilities. Budgetary, appointment, and veto powers also represent formal mechanisms available them to manage particular legislative agendas.

Beyond formal powers, governors also rely on a distinct set of informal powers to pursue legislative goals. Such informal powers often determine whether a state will have a strong or weak governor. Governors must be able to effectively communicate with a wide variety of political actors. They must be able to build broad coalitions and wield party support. Ultimately, this determines the extent to which they are able to achieve their legislative goals. More and more, governors are using their positions as stepping-stones to higher office. For example, four of the last five presidents served as governor prior to taking the presidential oath of office. Thus, a state’s governor remains an important indicator of a state’s well-being, as well as for providing cues to the direction of national policy.