Governor of Virginia

Governor of Virginia
Virginia Governor's Mansion or better known as "Executive Mansion" credit: Wikipedia


Candidates for governor must be United States citizens who have resided in Virginia and been a registered voter for five years prior to the election in which they are running. The candidates must be at least 30 years of age.

Unlike other state governors, Virginia governors are not allowed to serve consecutive terms.  To get on the ballot for Governor of Virginia, each candidate must file 10 000 signatures, including the signatures of at least 400 qualified voters from each 11 congressional districts in the Commonwealth.

The Governor of Virginia is addressed as “The Honorable”, but may occasionally be referred to as “Excellency” if ceremonially appropriate.


From Wikipedia

The governor is the head of government in Virginia. At the beginning of every regular session, they must report the state of the Commonwealth to the Virginia General Assembly (both the House of Delegates and the Senate). They must convene the legislature when two-thirds of each house calls for a special session. The governor must ensure that the laws of the Commonwealth are faithfully executed by either signing, or allowing it to come into law, or vetoing, not allowing it to become law. They are responsible for the safety of the state, as they serve as commander-in-chief of the Virginia Militia.


From Wikipedia

  • The governor has the legislative power to submit recommendations and to call special sessions when he finds them necessary.
  • The governor has veto powers. All bills must be sent to the governor before becoming law. The governor may sign the bill, let it sit unsigned for seven days, after which it becomes law, or veto the legislation. After a veto, the bill returns to its house of origin and may be overridden by two-thirds of the vote in each house.
  • The governor also has the power to use a line-item veto. He may send legislation back to the legislature with recommendations and amendments. The legislature must either approve the changes by a majority in each house or override the veto with a two-thirds majority in each house.
  • The governor is commander-in-chief of Virginia’s militia forces.
  • The governor may also communicate with other states and foreign powers.
  • The governor has the power to fill vacancies in positions unless the position is appointed by the legislature.
  • The governor may commute fines or sentences and issue pardons. The governor may also restore voting rights and overturn other political penalties on individuals.


From Wikipedia

The position of Governor of Virginia dates back to the 1607 first permanent English settlement in America, at Jamestown on the north shore of the James River upstream from Hampton Roads harbor at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. The Virginia Company of London set up a government run by a council. The president of the council basically served as a governor. The council was based in London and controlled the colony from afar. Nominally, Thomas Smith was the first president of the council, but he never left England. Edward Maria Wingfield was the first president of the council in residence in the new province, making him the first to exercise the actual authority of governing Virginia. The Virginia Company soon abandoned governance by council two years after the landing on May 23, 1609, and replacing it with a governor, the famous and dynamic leader, John Smith (1580-1631).

In 1624, the English Monarchy of King James I (1566-1625, reigned 1603-1625), in the last year of his reign, of the royal House of Stuart took control from the Virginia Company and its stockholders and made Virginia a crown colony. Governors continued to be appointed by the monarch for many years. Most often, the appointed governor would reside in England while a deputy or lieutenant governor actually exercised authority. Royal rule was interrupted during the English Civil War (1642-46 / 1648-49), after which governors were appointed by the Protectorate under Richard Cromwell (successor to Oliver Cromwell) in the interim Commonwealth of England until the English Restoration of the monarchy with King Charles II in 1660.


Virginia became an independent sovereign state and Commonwealth during the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), with Patrick Henry(1736-1799, served 1776-79 / 1786-89) as its first governor (and also later sixth). From the Revolution until 1851, the governor was elected by the General Assembly of Virginia (commonwealth/state legislature). After 1851, in a democratic trend spreading across the Union, the state turned to popular elections for office holders.

During the American Civil War (1861-1865), Francis Harrison Pierpont was the governor of the Union-controlled parts of the state, later of which emerged the new state in the northwest of West Virginia. Pierpont also served as one of the provisional governors during the post-war Reconstruction era. These governors were appointed by the Federal government of the President and U.S. Congress, both controlled by Radical Republicans for a decade. In 1874, Virginia regained its right to self-governance and elected James L. Kemper (1823-1895), a Democrat and temporary Conservative Party member and former Confederate general as governor. After the Radical Republican appointees of the post-war Reconstruction era, Virginia would not actually elect another regular Republican as governor until A. Linwood Holton Jr. in 1969. However, in 1881 William E. Cameron was elected governor under the banner of the Readjuster Party, a coalition of Republicans and populist Democrats. Douglas Wilder became the first elected and only the second African American Governor of any U.S. state. He served as governor from 1990 to 1994.

Since 1851, Virginia’s gubernatorial elections have been held in “off-years”—years in which there are no national (presidential, senatorial, or House) elections; Virginia’s gubernatorial elections are held one year after U.S. presidential elections (2001, 2005, 2009, etc.) (Most states hold gubernatorial elections either on presidential-election years or midterm-election years, when there are congressional elections.) In every Virginia gubernatorial election starting with 1977, the governor elected had been from the opposite party as the president elected by the nation in the previous year, even when Virginia had voted for the president in office, as with Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. The only exception being in 2013 with the election of Democrat Terry McAuliffe, following the re-election of President Obama in 2012.

Tim Kaine was inaugurated on January 14, 2006. Due to renovations on the Capitol in Richmond, his inauguration was held in Williamsburg, making him the first governor to be inaugurated in Williamsburg since Thomas Jefferson in 1779. The current governor of Virginia is Ralph Northam, who was inaugurated on January 13, 2018.

List of Governors

#PictureGovernorTook officeLeft office
1Patrick henry.JPGPatrick HenryJuly 5, 1776June 1, 1779
2T Jefferson by Charles Willson Peale 1791 2.jpgThomas JeffersonJune 1, 1779June 3, 1781
3No image.svgWilliam FlemingJune 3, 1781June 12, 1781
4Thomas Nelson (1700s).jpgThomas Nelson, Jr.June 12, 1781November 22, 1781
No image.svgDavid JamesonNovember 22, 1781December 1, 1781
5Benharrv.JPGBenjamin Harrison VDecember 1, 1781December 1, 1784
6Patrick henry.JPGPatrick HenryDecember 1, 1784December 1, 1786
7EdmundRandolph.jpegEdmund RandolphDecember 1, 1786December 1, 1788
8No image.svgBeverley RandolphDecember 1, 1788December 1, 1791
9HenryLee.jpegHenry Lee IIIDecember 1, 1791December 1, 1794
10Robert Brooke Virginia Governor.jpgRobert BrookeDecember 1, 1794December 1, 1796
11No image.svgJames WoodDecember 1, 1796December 1, 1799
No image.svgHardin BurnleyDecember 7, 1799December 11, 1799
No image.svgJohn Pendleton, Jr.December 11, 1799December 19, 1799
12James Monroe White House portrait 1819.jpgJames MonroeDecember 19, 1799December 1, 1802
13John Page Rosewell Gloucester County Virginia.jpgJohn PageDecember 1, 1802December 7, 1805
14William Cabell.gifWilliam H. CabellDecember 7, 1805December 1, 1808
15John Tyler Sr.jpgJohn Tyler, Sr.December 1, 1808January 15, 1811
George William Smith.jpgGeorge William SmithJanuary 15, 1811January 19, 1811
16James Monroe White House portrait 1819.jpgJames MonroeJanuary 19, 1811April 3, 1811
17George William Smith.jpgGeorge William SmithApril 3, 1811December 26, 1811
N/APeyton Randolph Virginia Governor.jpgPeyton RandolphDecember 27, 1811January 3, 1812
18BarbourT.jpgJames BarbourJanuary 3, 1812December 1, 1814
19Wilson Cary Nicholas 2.jpgWilson Cary NicholasDecember 1, 1814December 1, 1816
20James Patton Preston.jpgJames Patton PrestonDecember 1, 1816December 1, 1819
21Thomas Mann Randolph.jpgThomas Mann Randolph, Jr.December 1, 1819December 1, 1822
22James Pleasants bioguide.jpgJames PleasantsDecember 1, 1822December 10, 1825
23Tyler Daguerreotype crop (restoration).jpgJohn TylerDecember 10, 1825March 4, 1827
24William Branch Giles.jpgWilliam Branch GilesMarch 4, 1827March 4, 1830
25John Floyd crop.jpgJohn FloydMarch 4, 1830March 31, 1834
26LWTzw.jpgLittleton Waller TazewellMarch 31, 1834April 30, 1836
Wyndhamrobertsonportrait.jpgWyndham RobertsonApril 30, 1836March 31, 1837
27David Campbell.jpgDavid CampbellMarch 31, 1837March 31, 1840
28Thomas Gilmer newer.jpegThomas Walker GilmerMarch 31, 1840March 20, 1841
John Mercer Patton.jpgJohn M. PattonMarch 20, 1841March 31, 1841
John Rutherford Virginia Governor.jpgJohn RutherfoordMarch 31, 1841March 31, 1842
John Munford Gregory.jpgJohn Munford GregoryMarch 31, 1842January 1, 1843
29James McDowell.jpgJames McDowellJanuary 1, 1843January 1, 1846
30Hon. Smith - NARA - 528722.jpgWilliam SmithJanuary 1, 1846January 1, 1849
31John Buchanan Floyd.jpgJohn B. FloydJanuary 1, 1849January 16, 1852
32Joseph Johnson.pngJoseph JohnsonJanuary 16, 1852January 1, 1856
33HAWise.jpgHenry A. WiseJanuary 1, 1856January 1, 1860
34JohnLetcher.jpgJohn LetcherJanuary 1, 1860January 1, 1864
35Extra Billy Smith-Virginia.jpgWilliam SmithJanuary 1, 1864May 9, 1865
Francis Pierpont portrait.gifFrancis Harrison PierpontMay 9, 1865April 4, 1868
Henry Wells.jpgHenry H. WellsApril 4, 1868September 21, 1869
36Gilbert Carlton Walker.gifGilbert Carlton WalkerSeptember 21, 1869January 1, 1874
37James L Kemper.jpgJames L. KemperJanuary 1, 1874January 1, 1878
38Frederick Holliday.jpgFrederick W. M. HollidayJanuary 1, 1878January 1, 1882
39WE Cameron.jpgWilliam E. CameronJanuary 1, 1882January 1, 1886
40Fitzhugh Lee Governor.jpgFitzhugh LeeJanuary 1, 1886January 1, 1890
41Philip McKinney.jpgPhilip W. McKinneyJanuary 1, 1890January 1, 1894
42Charles O'Ferrall.jpgCharles Triplett O’FerrallJanuary 1, 1894January 1, 1898
43James Hoge Tyler.jpgJames Hoge TylerJanuary 1, 1898January 1, 1902
44Andrew J. Montague.jpgAndrew Jackson MontagueJanuary 1, 1902February 1, 1906
45CASwanson.jpgClaude A. SwansonFebruary 1, 1906February 10, 1910
46William Hodges Mann, ca. 1914.jpgWilliam Hodges MannFebruary 10, 1910February 1, 1914
47H.C. Stuart.jpgHenry Carter StuartFebruary 1, 1914February 1, 1918
48Governorwestmdavis.jpgWestmoreland DavisFebruary 1, 1918February 1, 1922
49GovTrinkle.jpgElbert Lee TrinkleFebruary 1, 1922February 1, 1926
50Harry F. Byrd.jpgHarry F. ByrdFebruary 1, 1926January 15, 1930
51JGPollard.jpgJohn Garland PollardJanuary 15, 1930January 17, 1934
52GeorgeCPeery.jpgGeorge C. PeeryJanuary 17, 1934January 15, 1938
53JamesHPrice.jpgJames H. PriceJanuary 15, 1938January 21, 1942
54Colgate W. Darden (Virginia Governor).jpgColgate DardenJanuary 21, 1942January 16, 1946
55William M. Tuck.jpgWilliam M. TuckJanuary 16, 1946January 18, 1950
56John S. Battle.jpgJohn S. BattleJanuary 18, 1950January 20, 1954
57Thomas Bahnson Stanley.jpgThomas B. StanleyJanuary 20, 1954January 11, 1958
58James Lindsay Almond - circa 1945 to 1949 - US House of Representatives.jpgJ. Lindsay AlmondJanuary 11, 1958January 13, 1962
59Albertis S. Harrison, Jr. 1962.jpgAlbertis HarrisonJanuary 13, 1962January 15, 1966
60Mills Godwin 1966.jpgMills GodwinJanuary 15, 1966January 17, 1970
61Linwood Holton 1970.jpgLinwood HoltonJanuary 17, 1970January 12, 1974
62Mills Godwin 1974.jpgMills GodwinJanuary 12, 1974January 14, 1978
63John Dalton 1976.jpgJohn DaltonJanuary 14, 1978January 16, 1982
64Charles Robb 1980.jpgChuck RobbJanuary 16, 1982January 18, 1986
65Gerald Baliles 1986.jpgGerald BalilesJanuary 18, 1986January 13, 1990
66D.Wilder S.Senate poster (cropped).jpgDouglas WilderJanuary 13, 1990January 15, 1994
67George Allen.jpgGeorge AllenJanuary 15, 1994January 17, 1998
68Jim Gilmore 2004 NSTAC crop.jpgJim GilmoreJanuary 17, 1998January 12, 2002
69Mark Warner.jpgMark WarnerJanuary 12, 2002January 14, 2006
70Gov. Tim Kaine (cropped).jpgTim KaineJanuary 14, 2006January 16, 2010
71Bob McDonnell by Gage Skidmore.jpgBob McDonnellJanuary 16, 2010January 11, 2014
72Virginia Governor Democrats Terry McAuliffe 095 Cropped.jpgTerry McAuliffeJanuary 11, 2014January 13, 2018
73Governor Ralph Northam Gives Inaugural Address (39348612584) (cropped).jpgRalph NorthamJanuary 13, 2018Incumbent



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