Governor of Colorado
Seal of the Executive Office
Incumbent
Jared Polis

since January 8, 2019
StyleThe Honorable
ResidenceColorado Governor's Mansion
Term lengthFour years, renewable once consecutively
Inaugural holderJohn Long Routt
FormationAugust 1, 1876
DeputyDianne Primavera
Salary$123,193 (2019)[1]
Websitewww.colorado.gov/governor

The governor of Colorado is the head of government of the U.S. state of Colorado. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Colorado's state government and is charged with enforcing state laws. The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Colorado General Assembly, to convene the legislature, and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason or impeachment.[2] The governor is also the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.

Seven people served as governor of Colorado Territory over eight terms, appointed by the President of the United States. Since statehood, there have been 38 governors, serving 43 distinct terms. One governor Alva Adams served three non-consecutive terms, while John Long Routt, James Hamilton Peabody, and Edwin C. Johnson each served during two non-consecutive periods. The longest-serving governors were Richard "Dick" Lamm (1975–1987) and Roy Romer (1987–1999), who each served 12 years over three terms. The shortest term occurred on March 16 and 17, 1905, when the state had three governors in the span of 24 hours: Alva Adams won the election, but soon after he took office, the legislature declared his opponent, James Hamilton Peabody, governor, but on the condition that he immediately resign, so that his lieutenant governor, Jesse McDonald, could be governor. Thus, Peabody served less than a day as governor.

The current governor is Democrat Jared Polis, who took office on January 8, 2019.

Governors

Governor of the Territory of Jefferson

R.W. Steele

The self-proclaimed Provisional Government of the Territory of Jefferson was organized on November 7, 1859.[3] Jefferson Territory included all of present-day Colorado, but extended about 3 miles (5 km) farther east, 138 miles (222 km) farther north, and about 50 miles (80 km) farther west.[4] The territory was never recognized by the federal government in the tumultuous days before the American Civil War. The Jefferson Territory had only one governor, Robert Williamson Steele, a pro-union Democrat elected by popular vote. He proclaimed the territory dissolved on June 6, 1861, several months after the official formation of the Colorado Territory, but only days after the arrival of its first governor.[5]

Governors of the Territory of Colorado

The Territory of Colorado was organized on February 28, 1861, from parts of the territories of New Mexico, Utah, and Nebraska, and the unorganized territory that was previously the western portion of Kansas Territory.[6]

Governors of the Territory of Colorado
No. Governor Term in office Appointed by
1
William Gilpin
    October 4, 1813 – January 20, 1894   
(aged 80)
March 25, 1861[7][a]

March 26, 1862[b]
Abraham Lincoln
2
John Evans
    March 9, 1814 – July 2, 1897   
(aged 83)
March 26, 1862[7]

October 17, 1865[c]
3
Alexander Cummings
    November 17, 1810 – 1879   
(aged 68 or 69)
October 17, 1865[11]

April 24, 1867
Andrew Johnson
4
Alexander Cameron Hunt
    December 23, 1825 – May 14, 1894   
(aged 68)
April 24, 1867[11]

June 14, 1869
5
Edward M. McCook
    June 15, 1833 – September 9, 1909   
(aged 76)
June 14, 1869[12]

Sometime in 1873[d]
Ulysses S. Grant
6
Samuel Hitt Elbert
    April 3, 1833 – November 27, 1899   
(aged 66)
April 4, 1873[13]

Sometime in 1874[e]
7
Edward M. McCook
    June 15, 1833 – September 9, 1909   
(aged 76)
June 19, 1874[12]

March 29, 1875
8
John Long Routt
    April 25, 1826 – August 13, 1907   
(aged 81)
March 29, 1875[14]

November 3, 1876[f]

Governors of the State of Colorado

The State of Colorado was admitted to the Union on August 1, 1876.

To serve as governor, one must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen of the United States, and have been a resident of the state for at least two years prior to election. The state constitution of 1876 originally called for election of the governor every two years, with their term beginning on the second Tuesday of the January following the election.[15] An amendment passed in 1956, taking effect in 1959, increased terms to four years.[16] Originally, there was no term limit applied to the governor; a 1990 amendment allowed governors to succeed themselves only once.[17] There is however no limit on the total number of terms one may serve as long as one who has served the two term limit is out of office for four years.

Should the office of governor become vacant, the lieutenant governor becomes governor.[18] If both the offices governor and lieutenant governor are vacant, the line of succession moves down through the senior members of the state senate and state house of representatives of the same party as the governor.[19] The lieutenant governor was elected separately from the governor until a 1968 amendment to the constitution[20] made it so that they are elected on the same ticket.[21]

Governors of the State of Colorado[g]
No. Governor Term in office Party Election Lt. Governor[h]
1
  John Long Routt
    April 25, 1826 – August 13, 1907   
(aged 81)
November 3, 1876[f]

January 14, 1879
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1876   Lafayette Head
2
Frederick Walker Pitkin
    August 31, 1837 – December 18, 1886   
(aged 49)
January 14, 1879

January 9, 1883
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1878 Horace Tabor
1880
3
James Benton Grant
    January 2, 1848 – November 1, 1911   
(aged 63)
January 9, 1883

January 13, 1885
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1882 William H. Meyer[i]
4
Benjamin Harrison Eaton
    December 15, 1833 – October 29, 1904   
(aged 70)
January 13, 1885

January 11, 1887
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1884 Peter W. Breene
5
Alva Adams
    May 14, 1850 – November 1, 1922   
(aged 72)
January 11, 1887

January 8, 1889
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1886 Norman H. Meldrum
6
Job Adams Cooper
    November 6, 1843 – January 20, 1899   
(aged 55)
January 8, 1889

January 13, 1891
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1888 William Grover Smith
7
John Long Routt
    April 25, 1826 – August 13, 1907   
(aged 81)
January 13, 1891

January 10, 1893
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1890 William Story
8
Davis Hanson Waite
    April 9, 1825 – November 27, 1901   
(aged 76)
January 10, 1893

January 8, 1895
(lost election)
Populist 1892 David H. Nichols
9
Albert McIntire
    January 15, 1853 – January 31, 1935   
(aged 82)
January 8, 1895

January 12, 1897
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1894 Jared L. Brush[i]
10
Alva Adams
    May 14, 1850 – November 1, 1922   
(aged 72)
January 12, 1897

January 10, 1899
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1896
11
Charles S. Thomas
    December 6, 1849 – June 24, 1934   
(aged 84)
January 10, 1899

January 8, 1901
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1898 Francis Patrick Carney[j]
12
James Bradley Orman
    November 4, 1849 – July 21, 1919   
(aged 69)
January 8, 1901

January 13, 1903
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1900 David C. Coates[k]
13
James Hamilton Peabody
    August 21, 1852 – November 23, 1917   
(aged 65)
January 13, 1903

January 10, 1905
(lost election)[l]
Republican 1902 Warren A. Haggott[m]
14
Alva Adams
    May 14, 1850 – November 1, 1922   
(aged 72)
January 10, 1905

March 16, 1905
(declared loser in election)[l]
Democratic 1904[l] Arthur Cornforth
15
James Hamilton Peabody
    August 21, 1852 – November 23, 1917   
(aged 65)
March 16, 1905

March 17, 1905
(resigned)[l]
Republican Jesse Fuller McDonald
16
Jesse Fuller McDonald
    June 30, 1858 – February 25, 1942   
(aged 83)
March 17, 1905

January 8, 1907
(did not run for election)
Republican Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
[l]
Arthur Cornforth[n]
(removed July 5, 1905)
Fred W. Parks
17
Henry Augustus Buchtel
    September 30, 1847 – October 22, 1924   
(aged 77)
January 8, 1907

January 12, 1909
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1906 Erastus Harper
18
John F. Shafroth
    June 9, 1854 – February 20, 1922   
(aged 67)
January 12, 1909

January 14, 1913
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1908 Stephen R. Fitzgarrald
1910
19
Elias M. Ammons
    July 28, 1860 – May 20, 1925   
(aged 64)
January 14, 1913

January 12, 1915
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1912
20
George Alfred Carlson
    October 23, 1876 – December 6, 1926   
(aged 50)
January 12, 1915

January 9, 1917
(lost election)
Republican 1914 Moses E. Lewis
21
Julius Caldeen Gunter
    October 31, 1858 – October 26, 1940   
(aged 81)
January 9, 1917

January 14, 1919
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1916 James Pulliam
22
Oliver Henry Shoup
    December 13, 1869 – September 30, 1940   
(aged 70)
January 14, 1919

January 9, 1923
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1918 George Stephan
1920 Earl Cooley
23
William Ellery Sweet
    January 27, 1869 – May 9, 1942   
(aged 73)
January 9, 1923

January 13, 1925
(lost election)
Democratic 1922 Robert F. Rockwell[i]
24
Clarence Morley
    February 9, 1869 – November 15, 1948   
(aged 79)
January 13, 1925

January 11, 1927
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1924 Sterling Byrd Lacy[n]
25
Billy Adams
    February 15, 1861 – February 4, 1954   
(aged 92)
January 11, 1927

January 10, 1933
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1926 George Milton Corlett[i]
1928
1930 Edwin C. Johnson
26
Edwin C. Johnson
    January 1, 1884 – May 30, 1970   
(aged 86)
January 10, 1933

January 1, 1937
(resigned)[o]
Democratic 1932 Ray Herbert Talbot
1934
27
Ray Herbert Talbot
    August 19, 1896 – January 30, 1955   
(aged 58)
January 1, 1937

January 12, 1937
(successor took office)
Democratic Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Vacant
28
Teller Ammons
    December 3, 1895 – January 16, 1972   
(aged 76)
January 12, 1937

January 10, 1939
(lost election)
Democratic 1936 Frank Hayes
29
Ralph Lawrence Carr
    December 11, 1887 – September 22, 1950   
(aged 62)
January 10, 1939

January 12, 1943
(not candidate for election)[p]
Republican 1938 John Charles Vivian
1940
30
John Charles Vivian
    June 30, 1887 – February 10, 1964   
(aged 76)
January 12, 1943

January 14, 1947
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1942 William Eugene Higby
1944
31
William Lee Knous
    February 2, 1889 – December 12, 1959   
(aged 70)
January 14, 1947

April 15, 1950
(resigned)[q]
Democratic 1946 Homer L. Pearson
1948 Walter Walford Johnson
32
Walter Walford Johnson
    April 16, 1904 – March 23, 1987   
(aged 82)
April 15, 1950

January 9, 1951
(lost election)
Democratic Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Charles P. Murphy[i]
33
Daniel I. J. Thornton
    January 31, 1911 – January 18, 1976   
(aged 64)
January 9, 1951

January 11, 1955
(not candidate for election)
Republican 1950 Gordon Allott
1952
34
Edwin C. Johnson
    January 1, 1884 – May 30, 1970   
(aged 86)
January 11, 1955

January 8, 1957
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1954 Stephen McNichols
35
Stephen McNichols
    March 7, 1914 – November 25, 1997   
(aged 83)
January 8, 1957

January 8, 1963
(lost election)
Democratic 1956 Frank L. Hays[i]
1958[r] Robert Lee Knous
36
John Arthur Love
    November 29, 1916 – January 21, 2002   
(aged 83)
January 8, 1963

July 16, 1973
(resigned)[s]
Republican 1962
1966 Mark Anthony Hogan[n]
1970 John D. Vanderhoof
37
John D. Vanderhoof
    May 27, 1922 – September 19, 2013   
(aged 91)
July 16, 1973

January 14, 1975
(lost election)[32]
Republican Succeeded from
Lieutenant
Governor
Ted L. Strickland
38
Richard Lamm
    August 3, 1935 – July 29, 2021   
(aged 85)
January 14, 1975

January 13, 1987
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 1974 George L. Brown
1978 Nancy E. Dick
1982
39
Roy Romer
    (1928-10-31) October 31, 1928 (age 92)
January 13, 1987

January 12, 1999
(term limited)
Democratic 1986 Mike Callihan
(resigned May 10, 1994)
1990
Vacant
Samuel H. Cassidy
(took office May 11, 1994)
1994 Gail Schoettler
40
Bill Owens
    (1950-10-22) October 22, 1950 (age 70)
January 12, 1999

January 9, 2007
(term limited)
Republican 1998 Joe Rogers
2002 Jane E. Norton
41
Bill Ritter
    (1956-09-06) September 6, 1956 (age 65)
January 9, 2007

January 11, 2011
(not candidate for election)
Democratic 2006 Barbara O'Brien
42
John Hickenlooper
    (1952-02-07) February 7, 1952 (age 69)
January 11, 2011

January 8, 2019
(term limited)
Democratic 2010 Joseph García
(resigned May 12, 2016)
2014
Donna Lynne
43
Jared Polis
    (1975-05-12) May 12, 1975 (age 46)
January 8, 2019

present[t]
Democratic 2018 Dianne Primavera

Succession

Main article: Gubernatorial lines of succession in the United States § Colorado

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The territory was formed on February 28, 1861, but no governor was appointed until March 25, 1861. Gilpin himself did not arrive in the territory until May 27, 1861.[8]
  2. ^ Gilpin was removed from office for improper financial drafts from the federal treasury.[9]
  3. ^ Evans resigned at the request of President Johnson following the Sand Creek Massacre. The resignation was requested on July 18, 1865.[10]
  4. ^ McCook was removed from office by petition.[12]
  5. ^ Records show Elbert served "less than a year", but his successor was appointed on June 19, 1874, which was 14 months after Elbert took office.[13]
  6. ^ a b The state was admitted on August 1, but Routt was formally inaugurated as state governor on November 3.[22]
  7. ^ Data is sourced from the National Governors Association, unless supplemental references are required.
  8. ^ Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Represented the Republican Party
  10. ^ Represented the Populist Party
  11. ^ The Colorado State Archives labels Coates a Democrat;[23] however, a contemporary New York Times article describes him as a Populist elected on a fusion ticket, and that he had renounced all other parties and become a Socialist.[24]
  12. ^ a b c d e The 1904 election was rife with fraud and controversy. Alva Adams won election, but soon after he took office the Republican legislature declared James Peabody to be the actual winner, on the condition that Peabody immediately tender his resignation, postdated to the next day. Peabody's lieutenant governor, Jesse McDonald, then succeeded to the governorship.[25]
  13. ^ The Colorado State Archives says Haggott served from 1902 to 1903; however, multiple sources say he served with Peabody[26] well into 1904,[27] so it is assumed the Archives are in error.
  14. ^ a b c Represented the Democratic Party
  15. ^ Johnson resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.[28]
  16. ^ Carr instead unsuccessfully ran for United States Senate.[29]
  17. ^ Knous resigned to take a seat on the United States District Court for the District of Colorado.[30]
  18. ^ First term under a 1956 constitutional amendment, which lengthened terms to four years.[16]
  19. ^ Love resigned to be Director of the Office of Energy Policy.[31]
  20. ^ Polis' first term expires on January 10, 2023.

References

General
  • "Governors of Colorado". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  • "Governors". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  • "The Territorial Governors Collection". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  • The University of Colorado Studies, volume IV. University of Colorado. 1907.
  • Sobel, Robert (1978). Biographical directory of the governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. I. Meckler Books. ISBN 9780930466015. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
Constitutions
Specific
  1. ^ "Memorandum" (PDF). Legislative Council Staff. January 3, 2019. Retrieved August 6, 2019.
  2. ^ CO Const. art IV
  3. ^ University of Colorado Studies, p. 71
  4. ^ University of Colorado Studies, p. 68
  5. ^ University of Colorado Studies, pp. 75–76
  6. ^ Thirty-sixth United States Congress (February 28, 1861). "An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado" (PDF). State of Colorado, Department of Personnel and Administration, Colorado State Archives. Retrieved November 29, 2007.
  7. ^ a b Houston Jr., Robert B. (2005). Two Colorado Odysseys: Chief Ouray Porter Nelson. p. 3. ISBN 0-595-35860-8.
  8. ^ McGinnis, Ralph Y.; Calvin N. Smith (1994). Abraham Lincoln and the Western Territories. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 58. ISBN 0-8304-1247-6.
  9. ^ "William Gilpin". Colorado Governor's Index. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved October 23, 2008.
  10. ^ "Correspondence from W. H. Seward to Gov. John Evans, re: Request by President for Resignation – 7/18/1865". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  11. ^ a b "Alexander Cummings". Colorado Governor's Index. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  12. ^ a b c "Edward Moody McCook". Colorado Governor's Index. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  13. ^ a b "Samuel Hitt Elbert". Colorado Governor's Index. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  14. ^ "John L. Routt". Colorado Governor's Index. Colorado State Archives. Retrieved September 1, 2007.
  15. ^ CO Const. art IV, original section 1
  16. ^ a b "Ballot History". Colorado Legislature. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  17. ^ "Ballot History". Colorado Legislature. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  18. ^ CO Const. art IV, sec 13
  19. ^ CO Const. art IV, sec 13, paragraph 7
  20. ^ "Ballot History". Colorado Legislature. Retrieved December 4, 2008.
  21. ^ CO Const. art IV, sec 1
  22. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. 1896. p. 450. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  23. ^ "Lieutenant Governors of Colorado". Colorado State Archives. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  24. ^ "General Notes". The New York Times. July 13, 1902. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  25. ^ Powe, Lucas A. (1992). The Fourth Estate and the Constitution: Freedom of the Press in America. University of California Press. pp. 2–3. Retrieved December 14, 2018.
  26. ^ Goodspeed, Weston Arthur (1904). The Province and the States: Missouri, Kansas, Colorado. p. 481. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  27. ^ "Shots Fired from Windows". The New York Times. June 6, 1904. Retrieved October 25, 2009.
  28. ^ "Edwin Carl Johnson". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  29. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1942" (PDF). Clerk of the United States House of Representatives. Retrieved July 2, 2014.
  30. ^ "William Lee Knous". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  31. ^ "John Arthur Love". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
  32. ^ "Former Colorado Gov. Vanderhoof dies at 91". The Gazette. Colorado Springs, Colorado. Associated Press. September 23, 2013. Retrieved December 14, 2018.