The Job of Governor

Gavin Christopher Newsom takes office as California’s Governor on Monday, January 7, 2019.

The Governor of California is an elected constitutional officer, the head of the executive branch and the highest state office in California. The governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and is limited to two terms. The office of governor was first established in 1849, replacing the succession of military governors that had overseen the territory since its annexation the previous year.

When one political party holds the governor’s office and a majority in both houses of the state legislature, the state is governed by a state government trifecta. Following the 2016 elections, California was one of six Democratic state government trifectas. To see more information on trifecta changes in the 2016 election, click here.


The Constitution of California establishes the office of governor in Article V, the Executive.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 1 The supreme executive power of this State is vested in the Governor.”


The governor may not hold any other public offices, engage in any lobbying or accept any honorariums. Additionally, he or she must be a registered voter in California, a resident of the state for at least five years on election day and an American citizen for at least five years.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 2  “…The Governor shall be an elector who has been a citizen of the United States and a resident of this State for 5 years immediately preceding the Governor’s election. The Governor may not hold other public office.”


California elects governors in federal midterm election years, e.g. 2018, 2022, 2026, 2030 and 2034. The gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the first Monday in the new year following the election.

California Constitution, Article 5, Section 2 “The Governor shall be elected every fourth year at the same time and places as members of the Assembly and hold office from the Monday after January 1 following the election until a successor qualifies.”

Sources: California State Constitution, Ballotpedia

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