|Governor of Montana|
|Residence||Montana Governor's Residence|
|Term length||Four years, renewable once (limited to eight years in a sixteen year period)|
|Constituting instrument||Montana Constitution of 1889|
|Inaugural holder||Joseph K. Toole|
|Formation||November 8, 1889|
|Succession||Every four years, unless re-elected.|
The Governor of Montana is the head of the executive branch of Montana's state government and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws, the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Montana State Legislature, to convene the legislature at any time, and to grant pardons and reprieves.
The current Montana Constitution, ratified in 1972, calls for a four-year term for the governor, commencing on the first Monday in January following an election. The governor is term-limited to 8 years in any 16-year period. 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; 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. The 1889 constitution made the lieutenant governor president of the state senate, 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 Joseph Toole, who served from 1889 to 1893 and again from 1901 until his resignation in 1908 with 11 years in office. 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.
Prior to the creation of Montana Territory (1864–1889), numerous areas of what is now Montana were areas 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, official term of office, see notes column for clarification of dates when men served as governor.
|#||Image||Governor||Party||Term start||Term end||Appointed by||Notes|
|1||Sidney Edgerton||Rep||June 22, 1864||July 12, 1866||Abraham Lincoln||Left for Washington, DC in September 1865 to settle federal accounts, obtain federal funding, and obtain reimbursement for personal funds spent on behalf of Montana's government. Resigned after funding issue remained unresolved.|
|—||Thomas Francis Meagher (acting)||Dem||September 1865||October 3, 1866||—||As Secretary of the Territory, he acted as governor in place of Gov. Edgerton while he was out of the Territory. He also acted in place of Gov. Smith until he arrived to assume his duties.|
|2||Green Clay Smith||Dem||October 3, 1866||April 9, 1869||Andrew Johnson||Left Montana in July 1868 to settle federal accounts and obtain federal funds following Thomas F. Meagher's death; remained in Washington, DC. He was ordained as a Baptist minister and became a temperance activist. Officially resigned in April 1869.|
|—||James Tufts (acting)||Rep||March 1869||April 9, 1869||—||Acted as governor from July 1868, when Green Clay Smith left for Washington, DC to April 1869 when James M. Ashley arrived.|
|3||James Mitchell Ashley||Rep||April 9, 1869||July 12, 1870||Ulysses S. Grant||Refusal to include Democrats in appointments made him unpopular; opponents then accused him of criticizing Grant administration policies, resulting in Grant removing him.|
|—||Wiley Scribner (acting)||Rep||December 1869||August 1870||—||Acted as governor until arrival of Benjamin F. Potts.|
|4||Benjamin F. Potts||Rep||July 13, 1870||January 14, 1883||Ulysses S. Grant||Term expired, July 1882. Potts remained in office until successor J. Schuyler Crosby arrived in Montana in January 1883.|
|5||John Schuyler Crosby||Rep||January 15, 1883||December 15, 1884||Chester A. Arthur||Resigned to accept appointment as First Assistant Postmaster General.|
|6||B. Platt Carpenter||Rep||December 16, 1884||July 13, 1885||Chester A. Arthur||Replaced when Democrat Grover Cleveland succeeded Republican President Chester A. Arthur.|
|7||Samuel Thomas Hauser||Dem||July 14, 1885||February 7, 1887||Grover Cleveland||Resigned in order to concentrate on management of business and banking interests.|
|8||Preston Hopkins Leslie||Dem||February 8, 1887||April 8, 1889||Grover Cleveland||Pro-temperance stance and policy disagreements with Republicans in territorial legislature caused legislators to request his replacement. Later served as Montana's U.S. Attorney and president of the state bar association.|
|9||Benjamin F. White||Rep||April 9, 1889||November 8, 1889||Benjamin Harrison||Term ended when Montana attained statehood. Later served as Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives and a member of the Montana Senate.|
Governors of Montana
|#||Image||Governor||Party||Took office||Left office||Lt. Governor and Term||Notes|
|1||Joseph Toole||Dem||November 8, 1889||January 1, 1893||
|2||John E. Rickards||Rep||January 2, 1893||January 3, 1897||
|3||Robert Burns Smith||Dem||January 4, 1897||January 7, 1901||
|4||Joseph Toole||Dem||January 7, 1901||April 1, 1908||
||Resigned due to declining health.|
|5||Edwin L. Norris||Dem||April 1, 1908||January 5, 1913||
||As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.|
|6||Sam V. Stewart||Dem||January 6, 1913||January 2, 1921||
|7||Joseph M. Dixon||Rep||January 3, 1921||January 4, 1925||
|8||John E. Erickson||Dem||January 4, 1925||March 13, 1933||
||Resigned so that his successor would appoint him to the United States Senate.|
|9||Frank Henry Cooney||Dem||March 13, 1933||December 15, 1935||
||As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term. Died in office while governor.|
|10||Elmer Holt||Dem||December 15, 1935||January 4, 1937||
||As president of the state senate, filled unexpired term.|
|11||Roy E. Ayers||Dem||January 4, 1937||January 6, 1941||
|12||Sam C. Ford||Rep||January 6, 1941||January 3, 1949||
|13||John W. Bonner||Dem||January 3, 1949||January 5, 1953||
|14||J. Hugo Aronson||Rep||January 5, 1953||January 2, 1961||
|15||Donald Grant Nutter||Rep||January 2, 1961||January 25, 1962||
||Died in office.|
|16||Tim M. Babcock||Rep||January 25, 1962||January 6, 1969||
||As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term, and was later elected in his own right.|
|17||Forrest H. Anderson||Dem||January 6, 1969||January 1, 1973||
|18||Thomas Lee Judge||Dem||January 1, 1973||January 5, 1981||
|19||Ted Schwinden||Dem||January 5, 1981||January 2, 1989||
|20||Stan Stephens||Rep||January 2, 1989||January 4, 1993|
|21||Marc Racicot||Rep||January 4, 1993||January 1, 2001|||
|22||Judy Martz||Rep||January 1, 2001||January 3, 2005||
|23||Brian Schweitzer||Dem||January 3, 2005||January 7, 2013||
|24||Steve Bullock||Dem||January 7, 2013||Incumbent||Governor Bullock's term will expire on January 4, 2021; he will be subject to term limits|
Other high offices held
This is a table of the equivalent or higher state and 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.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Higher offices held|
|Joseph M. Dixon||1921–1925||U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator|
|John Edward Erickson||1925–1933||U.S. Senator*|
|Sam C. Ford||1929–1933||Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice|
|Sam V. Stewart||1933-1939||Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice|
|Roy E. Ayers||1937–1941||U.S. Representative|
|Forrest H. Anderson||1953–1956||Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice|
|John W. Bonner||1969-1970||Montana Supreme Court Associate Justice|
Living former governors of Montana
As of October 2017[update], there are four former governors of Montana who are currently living at this time, the oldest former governor of Montana being Ted Schwinden (served 1981–1989, born 1925). The most recent death of a former governor of Montana, was Judy Martz (served 2001–2005, born 1943), on October 30, 2017. Martz is also the most recently serving former governor of Montana to die.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Ted Schwinden||1981–1989||August 31, 1925|
|Stan Stephens||1989–1993||September 16, 1929|
|Marc Racicot||1993–2001||July 24, 1948|
|Brian Schweitzer||2005–2013||September 4, 1955|
- "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 4.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 7.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 10.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 11.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 12.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 1.
- Montana Constitution, Article IV, Section 8.
- Montana Constitution, Article VI, Section 14.
- Montana Constitution (1889), Article VII, Section 1.
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- Eblen, Jack Ericson (1968). The First and Second United States Empires: Governors and Territorial Government, 1784-1912. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 283.
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- Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States. XXIII. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. 1902. p. 497.
- Contributions to the Historical Society of Montana. 2. Helena, MT: State Publishing Company. 1896. p. 387.
- The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. XI. New York, NY: James T. White & Company. 1909. p. 80.
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- Pacific Northwest Quarterly. 35-36. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 1944. p. 340.
- Harrison, Lowell H. (2004). Kentucky's Governors. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. pp. 103–104. ISBN 978-0-8131-2326-4.
- "News of the Profession: Montana Bar Association". Law Notes. Edward Thompson Company: Northport, NY: 236. March 1, 1904.
- McMullin, Thomas A.; Walker, David Allan (1984). Biographical Directory of American Territorial Governors. Westport, CT: Meckler Publishing. p. 221.
- Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Joseph K. Toole". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: Joseph M. Dixon". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
- Tribune Staff. "125 Montana Newsmakers: J. Hugo Aronson". Great Falls Tribune. Retrieved August 26, 2011.
- Lewis, Charles (December 20, 2001). "The GOP's New Lobbyist in Chief". Washington Post. Retrieved July 23, 2011.
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- "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.
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