Governor of Maryland

From Academic Kids

For a full list of governors of Maryland, see List of Governors of Maryland
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Robert L. Ehrlich, the 60th and current Governor of Maryland.

The Governor of Maryland, currently Robert L. Ehrlich, 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.


Selection and qualifications

Like most state chief executives in the United States, the Maryland governor is elected by the people to serve a four-year term. A governor is constitutionally prohibited from serving more than two consecutive terms, but in practice, once leaving office no former governor has ever returned run for a third term.

To run, a person must be at least 30 years old and a resident and registered voter in Maryland for the five years preceeding the election. 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

The governor has power to veto laws passed by the state's legislature, the General Assembly, and also has a 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's cabinet is known as the Executive Council. In addition to the cabinet, the governor also chairs 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 appointment powers of the governor are extensive as he or she appoints almost all military and civil officers of the State—subject to the advice and consent of the Senate. In addition to appointing the heads of major departments, boards, and commissions of the State government, the Governor appoints certain boards and commissions in each county and in Baltimore City, as provided for by law. The Governor also commissions notaries public and appoints persons to fill vacancies in the offices of Attorney General and Comptroller (both of which are normally elected by the people) and seats in the General Assembly. Any officer appointed by the Governor, except a member of the General Assembly, is removable by him for cause.

The governor is commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State, the National Guard, except when such forces are called into the national service by the President of the United States. If the National Guard is called into national service, the Governor may establish a State Guard. In times of public emergency the Governor has certain emergency powers as defined by law.

Additionally, the Governor may grant pardons to persons convicted of criminal acts against the State, commute the sentences of prisoners of the State, and remit fines and forfeitures for offenses against the State.

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, when Maryland briefly was a royal colony, the Crown appointed the governor. The Lords Baltimore regained control of Maryland in 1715 and chose a governor for the colony until the American Revolution.

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Thomas Johnson, the first Governor of Maryland after independence. He served from 1777-1779

Under the Maryland Constitution of 1776, the Governor was chosen annually by joint ballot of both houses of the General Assembly. In 1838, by constitutional amendment, voters began to elect the Governor every three years 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. Under the Maryland Constitution of 1851, the Governor's term of office was lengthened from three to four years. Finally, the short-lived Constitution of 1864 the rotating gubernatorial election districts were eliminated. Since the election of 1868, the Governor has been elected by all the voters of the State.

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.

Miscellaneous and trivia

To date, Maryland has yet to have a female governor. However, women were the runners up in each of the last three gubernatorial elections (1994, 1998, and 2002). So far, no Lt. Governor of Maryland has ever gone on to be elected in his or her own right as governor.

Spiro T. Agnew, who was Governor of Maryland from 1967-1969, later served as Vice President of the United States under Richard Nixon.

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.

See also


  • Maryland State Archives. (29 Oct. 2004). Maryland Manual On-Line: A Guide to Maryland Government. Governor ( Retrieved 17 May 2004.

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