List of Governors of Kentucky

Governor of Kentucky
Seal of Kentucky.svg
Seal of Kentucky
Matt Bevin by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Incumbent
Matt Bevin

since December 8, 2015
Style The Honorable
Residence Kentucky Governor's Mansion
Term length Four years, two consecutive with four year pause thereafter
Inaugural holder Isaac Shelby
Formation June 4, 1792
Salary $153,970 (2013) [1]
Website governor.ky.gov

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky is the head of the executive branch of Kentucky's state government, [2] and serves as commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. [3] The governor has a duty to enforce state laws; [4] the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Kentucky Legislature; [5] the power to convene the legislature; [6] and the power to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment. [7] He or she is also empowered to reorganize the state government or reduce it in size. Historically, the office has been regarded as one of the most powerful executive positions in the United States. [8]

Fifty-eight individuals have held the office of governor. Prior to a 1992 amendment to the state's constitution, the governor was prohibited from succeeding himself in office, though four men ( Isaac Shelby, John L. Helm, James B. McCreary, and A. B. "Happy" Chandler) served multiple non-consecutive terms. Paul E. Patton, the first governor eligible for a second consecutive term under the amendment, won his reelection bid in 1999. James Garrard succeeded himself in 1800, before the constitutional provision existed.

William Goebel, who was elected to the office in the disputed election of 1899, remains the only governor of any U.S. state to die from assassination while in office. [9] Martha Layne Collins, who held the office from 1983 to 1987, was the first woman to serve as governor and was only the third woman to serve as governor of any U.S. state who was not the wife or widow of a previous governor. [8]

The 62nd and current governor is Republican Matt Bevin, who took office on December 8, 2015.

Governors

Kentucky was initially Kentucky County in Virginia. It achieved statehood and was admitted to the Union on June 1, 1792; see the list of governors of Virginia for the period before statehood. There have been 57 governors, serving 61 distinct terms.

An unelected group proclaimed Kentucky's secession from the Union on November 20, 1861, and it was annexed by the Confederate States of America on December 10, 1861. The Confederate government elected two governors (listed separately), but it never held much control over the state, and the main line of governors was preserved.

The original 1792 Kentucky Constitution had the governor chosen by an electoral college for a term of four years. [10] The second constitution in 1799 changed this to a popular vote, and prevented governors from succeeding themselves within seven years of their terms. [11] The third constitution in 1850 reduced the succession limitation to four years. [12] A 1992 amendment to the constitution allowed governors to have a second term before being prevented from succeeding themselves for four years. [13]

Parties

   Democratic (35)    Democratic-Republican (9)    Know Nothing (1)    National Republican (2)    Republican (9)    Whig (6)

# Portrait Governor Took office Left office Party Lt. Governor
[note 1]
Terms
[note 2]
1   Isaac shelby.jpg Isaac Shelby June 4, 1792 June 7, 1796 Democratic-Republican None 1
2   JGarrard.jpg James Garrard June 7, 1796 September 5, 1804 Democratic-Republican None 2
  Alexander Scott Bullitt
3   Christopher Greenup.jpg Christopher Greenup September 5, 1804 September 1, 1808 Democratic-Republican   John Caldwell 1
  Thomas Posey
4   Charles Scott.jpg Charles Scott September 1, 1808 August 24, 1812 Democratic-Republican   Gabriel Slaughter 1
5   Isaac shelby.jpg Isaac Shelby August 24, 1812 September 5, 1816 Democratic-Republican   Richard Hickman 1
6   George Madison.jpg George Madison September 5, 1816 October 14, 1816 Democratic-Republican   Gabriel Slaughter 12
[note 3]
7   Gabriel Slaughter.jpg Gabriel Slaughter October 14, 1816 August 29, 1820 Democratic-Republican vacant 12
[note 4]
8   JOHN ADAIR colour corrected.jpg John Adair August 29, 1820 August 24, 1824 Democratic-Republican   William T. Barry 1
9   Joseph Desha by Katherine Helm.jpg Joseph Desha August 24, 1824 August 26, 1828 Democratic-Republican   Robert B. McAfee 1
10   TMetcalfe.jpg Thomas Metcalfe August 26, 1828 September 4, 1832 National Republican   John Breathitt 1
11   John Breathitt.jpg John Breathitt September 4, 1832 February 21, 1834 Democratic   James T. Morehead 12
[note 3]
12   JTMorehead.jpg James T. Morehead February 21, 1834 August 30, 1836 National Republican, later Whig vacant 12
[note 4]
13   JClark.jpg James Clark August 30, 1836 August 27, 1839 Whig   Charles A. Wickliffe 12
[note 3]
14   Wickliffe CA.jpg Charles A. Wickliffe August 27, 1839 September 2, 1840 Whig vacant 12
[note 4]
15   RPLetcher.jpg Robert P. Letcher September 2, 1840 September 4, 1844 Whig   Manlius V. Thomson 1
16   William Owsley.jpg William Owsley September 4, 1844 September 6, 1848 Whig   Archibald Dixon 1
17   John Jordan Crittenden - Brady 1855.jpg John J. Crittenden September 6, 1848 July 31, 1850 Whig   John L. Helm 12
[note 5]
18   JohnLaRueHelm.jpg John L. Helm July 31, 1850 September 2, 1851 Whig vacant 12
[note 4]
19   Lazarus W. Powell - Brady-Handy.jpg Lazarus W. Powell September 2, 1851 September 4, 1855 Democratic   John B. Thompson 1
20   Charles Slaughter Morehead.jpg Charles S. Morehead September 4, 1855 August 30, 1859 Know Nothing   James G. Hardy 1
21   Beriah Magoffin - Brady-Handy.jpg Beriah Magoffin August 30, 1859 August 18, 1862 Democratic   Linn Boyd 12
[note 6]
vacant
22   James F Robinson.jpg James F. Robinson August 18, 1862 September 1, 1863 Democratic vacant 12
[note 7]
23   Thomas E. Bramlette (Kentucky).jpg Thomas E. Bramlette September 1, 1863 September 3, 1867 Democratic   Richard T. Jacob 1
24   JohnLaRueHelm.jpg John L. Helm September 3, 1867 September 8, 1867 Democratic   John W. Stevenson 12
[note 3]
25   John Stevenson.jpg John W. Stevenson September 8, 1867 February 3, 1871 Democratic vacant 1 12
[note 8]
[note 9]
26   PHLeslie.jpg Preston H. Leslie February 3, 1871 August 31, 1875 Democratic   John G. Carlisle 1 12
[note 10]
27   James-B-McCreary.jpg James B. McCreary August 31, 1875 September 2, 1879 Democratic   John C. Underwood 1
28   Luke-P.-Blackburn.jpg Luke P. Blackburn September 2, 1879 September 5, 1883 Democratic   James E. Cantrill 1
29   J. Proctor Knott - Brady-Handy.jpg J. Proctor Knott September 5, 1883 August 30, 1887 Democratic   James R. Hindman 1
30   Simon Bolivar Buckner Sr.jpg Simon Bolivar Buckner August 30, 1887 September 2, 1891 Democratic   James W. Bryan 1
31   John Y. Brown 1835-1904 - Brady-Handy.jpg John Young Brown September 2, 1891 December 10, 1895 Democratic   Mitchell C. Alford 1
32   William-O.-Bradley.jpg William O. Bradley December 10, 1895 December 12, 1899 Republican   William J. Worthington 1
33   William Sylvester Taylor.jpg William S. Taylor December 12, 1899 January 30, 1900 Republican   John Marshall 13
[note 11]
34   William Goebel circa 1889.jpg William Goebel January 30, 1900 February 3, 1900 Democratic   J. C. W. Beckham 13
[note 11]
35   J. C. W. Beckham.jpg J. C. W. Beckham February 3, 1900 December 10, 1907 Democratic vacant 1 13
[note 12]
  William P. Thorne
36   August E. Willson, Governor of Kentucky.jpg Augustus E. Willson December 10, 1907 December 12, 1911 Republican   William Hopkinson Cox 1
37   James-B-McCreary.jpg James B. McCreary December 12, 1911 December 7, 1915 Democratic   Edward J. McDermott 1
38   Augustus O Stanley.jpg Augustus O. Stanley December 7, 1915 May 19, 1919 Democratic   James D. Black 12
[note 9]
39   James-Dixon-Black.jpg James D. Black May 19, 1919 December 9, 1919 Democratic vacant 12
[note 4]
40   Edwin-P-Morrow,-speaking.jpg Edwin P. Morrow December 9, 1919 December 11, 1923 Republican   S. Thruston Ballard 1
41   William J. Fields.jpg William J. Fields December 11, 1923 December 13, 1927 Democratic   Henry Denhardt 1
42   No image.svg Flem D. Sampson December 13, 1927 December 8, 1931 Republican   James Breathitt, Jr. 1
43   Ruby Laffoon Portrait.png Ruby Laffoon December 8, 1931 December 10, 1935 Democratic   Happy Chandler 1
44   Happy Chandler - Harris and Ewing Crop.jpg Happy Chandler December 10, 1935 October 9, 1939 Democratic   Keen Johnson 12
[note 13]
45   Keen Johnson.jpg Keen Johnson October 9, 1939 December 7, 1943 Democratic   Rodes K. Myers 1 12
[note 8]
46   No image.svg Simeon Willis December 7, 1943 December 9, 1947 Republican   Kenneth H. Tuggle 1
47   Earle-Clements.jpg Earle Clements December 9, 1947 November 27, 1950 Democratic   Lawrence W. Wetherby 12
[note 9]
48   Lawrence-Wetherby.jpg Lawrence W. Wetherby November 27, 1950 December 13, 1955 Democratic vacant 1 12
[note 8]
  Emerson Beauchamp
49   Happy Chandler - Harris and Ewing Crop.jpg Happy Chandler December 13, 1955 December 8, 1959 Democratic   Harry Lee Waterfield 1
50   Bert-Combs.jpg Bert Combs December 8, 1959 December 10, 1963 Democratic   Wilson Wyatt 1
51   Ned-Breathitt-at-desk.jpg Ned Breathitt December 10, 1963 December 12, 1967 Democratic   Harry Lee Waterfield 1
52   Louie-Nunn.jpg Louie Nunn December 12, 1967 December 7, 1971 Republican   Wendell Ford 1
53   Sen Wendell Ford of Ky.jpg Wendell Ford December 7, 1971 December 28, 1974 Democratic   Julian Carroll 12
[note 9]
54   Julian-Carroll.jpg Julian Carroll December 28, 1974 December 11, 1979 Democratic   Thelma Stovall 1 12
[note 8]
55   John Y. Brown, Jr..jpg John Y. Brown Jr. December 11, 1979 December 13, 1983 Democratic   Martha Layne Collins 1
56   Martha Layne Collins, governor of Kentucky, Nov 8, 1986 (cropped).jpg Martha Layne Collins December 13, 1983 December 8, 1987 Democratic   Steve Beshear 1
57   No image.svg Wallace Wilkinson December 8, 1987 December 10, 1991 Democratic   Brereton Jones 1
58   No image.svg Brereton Jones December 10, 1991 December 12, 1995 Democratic   Paul E. Patton 1
59   Paul E. Patton 2013.jpg Paul E. Patton December 12, 1995 December 9, 2003 Democratic   Steve Henry 2
60   Ernie Fletcher.jpg Ernie Fletcher December 9, 2003 December 11, 2007 Republican   Steve Pence 1
61   Steve Beshear by Gage Skidmore.jpg Steve Beshear December 11, 2007 December 8, 2015 Democratic   Daniel Mongiardo 2
  Jerry Abramson
  Crit Luallen
62   Matt Bevin by Gage Skidmore.jpg Matt Bevin December 8, 2015 Incumbent Republican   Jenean Hampton 1
[note 14]