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Governor of Montana

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Governor of Montana

Governor of Montana
Seal of the State of Montana
The Honorable
Residence Montana Governor's Residence
Term length Four years, renewable once
Inaugural holder Joseph K. Toole
Formation 1889; Montana Constitution
Succession Every four years, unless re-elected.

The Governor of Montana is the head of the executive branch of Montana's government[1] and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.[2] The governor has a duty to enforce state laws,[1] the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Montana State Legislature,[3] to convene the legislature at any time,[4] and to grant pardons and reprieves.[5]

The current Montana Constitution, ratified in 1972, calls for a four-year term for the governor, commencing on the first Monday in the January following an election.[6] The governor is term-limited to 8 years in any 16-year period.[7] The constitution provides for the election of a lieutenant governor for the same term as the governor. The two offices are elected on the same ticket;[6] a provision which did not appear in the state's first constitution, ratified in 1889. In the event of a vacancy in the office of governor due to resignation, disqualification, or death, the lieutenant governor becomes governor for the remainder of the term. If the governor is unable to perform his duties for any other reason, the lieutenant governor may become acting governor at the discretion of the state legislature.[8] The 1889 constitution made the lieutenant governor president of the state senate,[9] but this provision was removed in the 1972 constitution.

Montana has had 24 governors (ten of whom were actually born within state boundaries), consisting of 9 Republicans and 15 Democrats. The longest-serving governor was John Edward Erickson, who was elected three times and served from 1925 to 1933 before resigning to become a U.S. senator, only two months into his third term. The shortest-serving governor was Elmer Holt, who served less than 13 months when the previous governor died. The current governor is Democrat Steve Bullock, who took office on January 7, 2013 and is serving his first term.


Prior to the creation of Montana Territory (1864–1889), various parts of what is now Montana were parts of Oregon Territory (1848–1859), Washington Territory (1853–1863), Idaho Territory (1863–1864), and Dakota Territory (1861–1864).

Governors of Montana Territory

NOTE: Term dates are for the full term of office, see notes column for clarification of dates about actually serving as governor.

Dem Democratic Rep Republican UNK = Unknown

Governors of Montana Territory
# Governor Party Term start Term end Appointed by Notes
1 Edgerton, SidneySidney Edgerton Rep Lincoln, AbrahamAbraham Lincoln Did not find out he had been appointed right away; left the state in September 1865 and did not return for 25 years
Meagher (acting), Thomas FrancisThomas Francis Meagher (acting) Dem Also filled in for Smith as Smith had gone back to the east coast[10][11][12][13]
2 Smith, Green ClayGreen Clay Smith Dem Johnson, AndrewAndrew Johnson Did not actually assume office until October 1866
Meagher (acting), Thomas FrancisThomas Francis Meagher (acting) Dem [10][11][12][13]
2 Smith, Green ClayGreen Clay Smith Dem Johnson, AndrewAndrew Johnson Apparently became non-functioning as governor in summer 1868
Tufts (acting), JamesJames Tufts (acting) Rep Possibly from late 1868
3 Ashley, James MitchellJames Mitchell Ashley Rep Grant, Ulysses S.Ulysses S. Grant Removed from office by President Ulysses S. Grant in mid-December 1869 for unclear reasons.[14]
Scribner (acting), WileyWiley Scribner (acting) UNK Party affiliation unknown
4 Potts, Benjamin F.Benjamin F. Potts Rep Grant, Ulysses S.Ulysses S. Grant
5 Crosby, John SchuylerJohn Schuyler Crosby Rep Arthur, Chester A.Chester A. Arthur
6 Carpenter, B. PlattB. Platt Carpenter Rep Arthur, Chester A.Chester A. Arthur
7 Hauser, Samuel ThomasSamuel Thomas Hauser Dem Cleveland, GroverGrover Cleveland
8 Leslie, Preston HopkinsPreston Hopkins Leslie Dem Cleveland, GroverGrover Cleveland
9 White, Benjamin F.Benjamin F. White Rep Harrison, BenjaminBenjamin Harrison

Governors of Montana

Dem Democratic Rep Republican

Governors of Montana
# Governor Party Took office Left office Lt. Governor and Term Notes
1 Toole, JosephJoseph Toole Dem [15]
2 Rickards, John E.John E. Rickards Rep
  • Alexander C. Botkin (Rep) – 2
3 Smith, Robert BurnsRobert Burns Smith Dem
  • A. E. Spriggs (Dem) – 3
4 Toole, JosephJoseph Toole Dem Resigned due to declining health.
5 Norris, Edwin L.Edwin L. Norris Dem As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.
6 Stewart, Sam V.Sam V. Stewart Dem
  • W. W. McDowell (Dem) - 7, 8
7 Dixon, Joseph M.Joseph M. Dixon Rep
  • Nelson Story, Jr. (Rep) - 9
8 Erickson, John E.John E. Erickson Dem Resigned so that his successor would appoint him to the United States Senate.
9 Cooney, Frank HenryFrank Henry Cooney Dem
  • Tom Kane (Rep) - 12
  • Ernest T. Eaton (Rep) - 12
  • Elmer Holt (Dem) - 12
As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term. Died in office while governor.
10 Holt, ElmerElmer Holt Dem
  • William P. Pilgeram (Dem) - 12
As president of the state senate, filled unexpired term.
11 Ayers, Roy E.Roy E. Ayers Dem
  • Hugh R. Adair (Dem) - 13
12 Ford, Sam C.Sam C. Ford Rep
  • Ernest T. Eaton (Rep) - 14, 15
13 Bonner, John W.John W. Bonner Dem
  • Paul Cannon (Dem) - 16
14 Aronson, J. HugoJ. Hugo Aronson Rep
  • George M. Gosman (Rep) - 17
  • Paul Cannon (Dem) - 18
15 Nutter, Donald GrantDonald Grant Nutter Rep Died in office.
16 Babcock, Tim M.Tim M. Babcock Rep
  • David F. James (Dem) - 19
  • Ted James (Rep) - 20
As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.
17 Anderson, Forrest H.Forrest H. Anderson Dem
18 Judge, Thomas LeeThomas Lee Judge Dem
19 Schwinden, TedTed Schwinden Dem
20 Stephens, StanStan Stephens Rep
21 Racicot, MarcMarc Racicot Rep [18][19]
22 Martz, JudyJudy Martz Rep [20]
23 Schweitzer, BrianBrian Schweitzer Dem Governor Schweitzer's second term expired in 2013; he is term limited.[21]
24 Bullock, SteveSteve Bullock Dem Incumbent
  • John Walsh (Dem) - 32

Other high offices held

This is a table of the higher federal offices and other governorships held by governors. All representatives and senators represented Montana. * denotes cases where the governor resigned the governship to accept the other office.

Other high offices held by Montanans
Name Gubernatorial term Higher offices held
Toole, JosephJoseph Toole 1889–1893, 1901–1908 Territorial Delegate
Dixon, Joseph M.Joseph M. Dixon 1921–1925 U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator
Erickson, John EdwardJohn Edward Erickson 1925–1933 U.S. Senator*
Ayers, Roy E.Roy E. Ayers 1937–1941 U.S. Representative

Living former governors

As of January 2013, six former governors are alive, the oldest being Tim M. Babcock (1962–1969, born 1919). The most recent death of a governor, as well as the most recently serving governor to die, was Thomas Lee Judge (1973–1981), on September 8, 2006.

Living former governors of Montana
Name Gubernatorial term Date of birth
Babcock, Tim M.Tim M. Babcock 1962–1969 (1919-10-27) October 27, 1919 (age 94)
Schwinden, TedTed Schwinden 1981–1989 (1925-08-31) August 31, 1925 (age 88)
Stephens, StanStan Stephens 1989–1993 (1929-09-16) September 16, 1929 (age 84)
Racicot, MarcMarc Racicot 1993–2001 (1948-07-24) July 24, 1948 (age 66)
Martz, JudyJudy Martz 2001–2005 (1943-07-28) July 28, 1943 (age 70)
Schweitzer, BrianBrian Schweitzer 2005–2013 (1955-09-04) September 4, 1955 (age 58)



  • "U.S. States L-M -- Montana." World Statesman Almanac. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Former Montana Governors." State of Montana. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer." State of Montana. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Constitution of the State of Montana" (1972). Montana Legislature. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Constitution of the State of Montana" (1889). University of Montana Law Library. Retrieved August 14, 2011.
  • "Constitution of the State of Montana" (1884) ratified but never approved by Congress. University of Montana Law Library. Retrieved August 14, 2011.

External links

  • Governors of Montana from

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