|Governor of Florida|
|Status||Head of State|
Head of Government
|Residence||Florida Governor's Mansion|
|Term length||Four years, renewable once|
|Constituting instrument||Constitution of Florida|
|Precursor||Governor of the Florida Territory|
|Inaugural holder||William Dunn Moseley|
|Formation||June 25, 1845|
|Deputy||Lieutenant Governor of Florida|
The governor of Florida is the head of state, head of government and chief executive of the U.S. state of Florida and the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The governor has a duty to enforce state laws and the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Florida Legislature, to convene the legislature and grant pardons, except in cases of impeachment.
When Florida was first acquired by the United States, future president Andrew Jackson served as its military governor. Florida Territory was established in 1822 and five people served as governor over 6 distinct terms. The first territorial governor, William Pope Duval, served 12 years, the longest of any Florida governor to date.
Since statehood in 1845, there have been 45 people who have served as governor, one of whom served two distinct terms. Four state governors have served two full four-year terms: William D. Bloxham, in two stints, as well as Reubin Askew, Jeb Bush and Rick Scott who each served their terms consecutively. Bob Graham almost served two terms, as he resigned with only three days left. The shortest term in office belongs to Wayne Mixson, who served three days following the resignation of his predecessor, Bob Graham.
Florida had been a French and then a Spanish colony. It came under British control and then returned to Spanish control again after the American Revolution. It had various governors during these colonial periods. The British divided Florida into East Florida and West Florida, each with its own governor.
Federal military commissioner
Spanish Florida was acquired from Spain in the Adams–Onís Treaty, which took effect July 10, 1821. Parts of West Florida had already been assigned to Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi; the remainder and East Florida were governed by a military commissioner with the powers of governor until the territory was organized and incorporated.
|Commissioner||Term in office||Appointed by||Notes|
|Andrew Jackson||March 10, 1821
December 31, 1821
Governors of the Territory of Florida
|No.||Governor||Term in office||Appointed by|
|1||William Pope Duval||April 17, 1822
April 24, 1834
|John Quincy Adams|
|2||John Eaton||April 24, 1834|
March 16, 1836
|3||Richard K. Call||March 16, 1836|
December 2, 1839
|4||Robert R. Reid||December 2, 1839
March 19, 1841
|Martin Van Buren|
|5||Richard K. Call||March 19, 1841
August 11, 1844
|William Henry Harrison|
|6||John Branch||August 11, 1844|
June 25, 1845
Governors of the State of Florida
The State of Florida was admitted to the Union on March 3, 1845. It seceded from the Union on January 10, 1861, and joined the Confederate States of America on February 8, 1861, as a founding member. Following the end of the American Civil War, it was part of the Third Military District. Florida was readmitted to the Union on June 25, 1868.
The Florida Constitution of 1838 provided that a governor be elected every 4 years, who was not allowed to serve consecutive terms. The secessionist constitution of 1861 would have reduced this to two years and removed the term limit, but the state fell to the Union before the first election under that constitution. The rejected constitution of 1865 and the ratified constitution of 1868 maintained the four-year term, though without the earlier term limit, which was reintroduced in the 1885 constitution. The current constitution of 1968 states that should the governor serve, or would have served had he not resigned, more than six years in two consecutive terms, he cannot be elected to the succeeding term. The start of a term was set in 1885 at the first Tuesday after the first Monday in the January following the election, where it has remained.
Originally, the president of the state senate acted as governor should that office be vacant. The 1865 and 1868 constitutions created the office of lieutenant governor, who would similarly act as governor. This office was abolished in 1885, with the president of the senate again taking on that duty. The 1968 constitution recreated the office of lieutenant governor, who now becomes governor in the absence of the governor. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected on the same ticket.
Florida was a strongly Democratic state before the Civil War, electing only one candidate from the Whig party (the Democrat's chief opposition at the time). It elected three Republican governors following Reconstruction, but after the Democratic Party re-established control, 90 years passed before voters chose another Republican.
|No.||Governor||Term in office||Party||Election||Lt. Governor[d][e]|
|1||William Dunn Moseley||June 25, 1845
October 1, 1849
|Democratic||1845||Office did not exist|
|2||Thomas Brown||October 1, 1849
October 3, 1853
|3||James E. Broome||October 3, 1853
October 5, 1857
|4||Madison S. Perry||October 5, 1857
October 7, 1861
|5||John Milton||October 7, 1861
April 1, 1865
(died in office)[f]
|6||Abraham K. Allison||April 1, 1865
May 19, 1865
|—||Vacant||May 19, 1865
July 13, 1865
after civil war
|7||William Marvin||July 13, 1865
December 20, 1865
(provisional term ended)
|8||David S. Walker||December 20, 1865
July 4, 1868
|Democratic[i]||1865||William W. J. Kelly[j]|
|9||Harrison Reed||July 4, 1868[k]
January 7, 1873
(not candidate for election)
|Republican||1868||William Henry Gleason|
(removed December 14, 1868)[l]
|Edmund C. Weeks|
(appointed January 24, 1870)
(term ended December 27, 1870)[m]
|Samuel T. Day|
(took office December 27, 1870)
|10||Ossian B. Hart||January 7, 1873
March 18, 1874
(died in office)
|11||Marcellus Stearns||March 18, 1874
January 2, 1877
|Acting as Governor|
|12||George Franklin Drew||January 2, 1877
January 4, 1881
(not candidate for election)
|Democratic||1876||Noble A. Hull|
(resigned March 3, 1879)
|13||William D. Bloxham||January 4, 1881
January 7, 1885
|Democratic||1880||Livingston W. Bethel|
|14||Edward A. Perry||January 7, 1885
January 8, 1889
|Democratic||1884||Milton H. Mabry|
|15||Francis P. Fleming||January 8, 1889
January 3, 1893
|Democratic||1888||Office did not exist|
|16||Henry L. Mitchell||January 3, 1893
January 5, 1897
|17||William D. Bloxham||January 5, 1897
January 8, 1901
|18||William Sherman Jennings||January 8, 1901
January 3, 1905
|19||Napoleon B. Broward||January 3, 1905
January 5, 1909
|20||Albert W. Gilchrist||January 5, 1909
January 7, 1913
|21||Park Trammell||January 7, 1913
January 2, 1917
|22||Sidney Johnston Catts||January 2, 1917
January 4, 1921
|23||Cary A. Hardee||January 4, 1921
January 6, 1925
|24||John W. Martin||January 6, 1925
January 8, 1929
|25||Doyle E. Carlton||January 8, 1929
January 3, 1933
|26||David Sholtz||January 3, 1933
January 5, 1937
|27||Fred P. Cone||January 5, 1937
January 7, 1941
|28||Spessard Holland||January 7, 1941
January 2, 1945
|29||Millard Caldwell||January 2, 1945
January 4, 1949
|30||Fuller Warren||January 4, 1949
January 6, 1953
|31||Daniel T. McCarty||January 6, 1953
September 28, 1953
(died in office)
|32||Charley Eugene Johns||September 28, 1953
January 4, 1955
|33||LeRoy Collins||January 4, 1955
January 3, 1961
|34||C. Farris Bryant||January 3, 1961
January 5, 1965
|35||W. Haydon Burns||January 5, 1965
January 3, 1967
|36||Claude R. Kirk Jr.||January 3, 1967
January 5, 1971
|Ray C. Osborne|
(office created January 7, 1969)
|37||Reubin Askew||January 5, 1971
January 2, 1979
|Democratic||1970||Thomas Burton Adams Jr.|
|38||Bob Graham||January 2, 1979
January 3, 1987
|39||Wayne Mixson||January 3, 1987
January 6, 1987
(successor took office)
|40||Bob Martinez||January 6, 1987
January 8, 1991
|41||Lawton Chiles||January 8, 1991
December 12, 1998
(died in office)
|42||Buddy MacKay||December 12, 1998
January 5, 1999
(successor took office)[q]
|43||Jeb Bush||January 5, 1999
January 2, 2007
(resigned March 3, 2003)
|44||Charlie Crist||January 2, 2007
January 4, 2011
(not candidate for election)
|45||Rick Scott||January 4, 2011
January 7, 2019[s]
(resigned March 12, 2013)
(appointed February 3, 2014)
|46||Ron DeSantis||January 8, 2019
Living former governors of Florida
There are six living former governors of Florida, the oldest being Buddy MacKay (served 1998–1999, born 1933). The most recent death of a former governor was that of Wayne Mixson (served 1987, born 1922), on July 8, 2020. The most recently serving governor to die was Lawton Chiles (served 1991–1998, born 1930), who died in office on December 12, 1998.
The living former governors, in order of service, are:
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Date of birth (and age)|
|Bob Graham||1979–1987||November 9, 1936|
|Bob Martinez||1987–1991||December 25, 1934|
|Buddy MacKay||1998–1999||March 22, 1933|
|Jeb Bush||1999–2007||February 11, 1953|
|Charlie Crist||2007–2011||July 24, 1956|
|Rick Scott||2011–2019||December 1, 1952|
Federal offices held
18 of Florida's governors have served higher federal offices. 5 have represented Florida in the U.S. House of Representatives, while 3 represented other states. 5 have represented Florida in the U.S. Senate, while 2 represented other states. 8 have served in federal appointed office, with 3 serving in the Cabinet, 2 serving as ambassadors, 1 serving as a federal judge, and 3 serving as the heads of government agencies.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||U.S. House||U.S. Senate||Other offices held|
|William Pope Duval[u]||1822–1834||H[v]||—|
|John Eaton[u]||1834–1836||—||S[w]||U.S. Secretary of War, U.S. Minister to Spain|
|Richard K. Call[u]||1836–1839
|Robert R. Reid[u]||1839–1841||H[x]||—|
|John Branch[u]||1839–1841||H[y]||S[y]||U.S. Secretary of the Navy|
|William Marvin||1865||—||—||U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Florida|
|Millard Caldwell||1945–1949||H||—||Administrator of the Federal Civil Defense Administration|
|C. Farris Bryant||1961–1965||—||—||Director of the Office of Emergency Planning|
|Ruben Askew||1971–1979||—||—||U.S. Trade Representative|
|Bob Martinez||1987–1991||—||—||Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy|
|Buddy McKay||1998–1999||H||—||U.S. Special Envoy for the Americas|
Line of succession
Since 2003, the line of succession to the office of governor has been as follows:
- Lieutenant Governor, currently Jeanette Núñez
- Attorney General, currently Ashley Moody
- Chief Financial Officer, currently Jimmy Patronis
- Commissioner of Agriculture, currently Nikki Fried
Whenever the governor is unable or unwilling to discharge the office, either temporarily or permanently, the lieutenant governor takes over all the duties of the governorship either until the governor is able to resume the office or until the next election. At any time that the governor is on trial for impeachment, the lieutenant governor becomes the acting governor. Additionally, at any time that three members of the cabinet and the chief justice of the Supreme Court agree on the governor's mental or physical unfitness for office, they may suspend and reinstate the governor, pursuant to Article IV, Section 3 of the Florida Constitution.
If a vacancy occurs in the office of governor and a successor within the above-stated line of succession can not fill the vacancy, the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives and the president of the Senate must convene the Legislature by joint proclamation within 15 days for the purpose of choosing a person to serve as governor for the remainder of the term. A successor can only be chosen by a majority vote in a joint session of both houses.
If, after the appointment of a lieutenant governor, a vacancy occurs in the office of governor with more than 28 months remaining in the term and the appointed lieutenant governor becomes governor, voters must choose a governor and lieutenant governor to serve out the remainder of the terms at the next general election.
Florida has had a number of people serve as “Acting Governor”. The state's first three Constitutions provided that the succession in office became operative whenever the Governor was out of the state. Thus, in 1853 when Governor Thomas Brown attended an event in Boston—the Senate President who would normally succeed the Governor at the time was also out of state. Therefore, the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, A.K. Allison, became “Acting Governor” on September 16, 1853. He served for 17 days.
Only seven weeks after his inauguration, Governor McCarty suffered a heart attack. He died in September 1953. The President of the Senate, Charley E. Johns, took over as “Acting Governor” until an election could be held in November 1954 to till out Governor McCarty's term.
Article IV Section 3 (b) of the Florida Constitution now calls for the Lieutenant Governor to “act as Governor” during the Governor's physical or mental incapacity. This provision has been invoked one time. On June 18, 2008 Governor Charlie Crist filed a Proclamation with the Secretary of State transferring power of the Office of Governor to Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp pursuant to the Constitutional provision while he underwent knee surgery.
- Jackson's official titles were "Commissioner of the United States" and "Governor of East and West Florida".
- Jackson left Florida on October 8, 1821. His resignation was submitted on November 13, 1821, and the president accepted it on December 31, 1821.
- Data is sourced from the National Governors Association, unless supplemental references are required.
- The office of lieutenant governor was created in 1868, abolished in 1885, and recreated in 1968.
- Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
- Milton committed suicide due to the pending defeat of the Confederate States of America, stating in his final address to the legislature that "death would be preferable to reunion."
- Allison resigned to go into hiding from approaching Union troops, and was captured by them on June 19, 1865.
- Marvin was appointed provisional governor by the Union occupation.
- Most sources state Walker was a Democrat; the state archives say he was "Conservative".
- Represented the Republican Party
- Reed was popularly elected under the terms of the 1868 constitution, and took the oath of office on June 8, 1868; it was not until July 4, 1868, however, that the federal commander of Florida, still under Reconstruction, recognized the validity of the state constitution and the election.
- During an attempted impeachment of Reed, Gleason proclaimed himself governor. The Supreme Court eventually sided with Reed, and Gleason was removed from office.
- Appointed as temporary lieutenant governor to replace William Henry Gleason. However, the state comptroller did not believe the governor could appoint a replacement to an elected office and refused to pay Weeks, and the Senate refused to accept his presidency over them, even proposing a motion to arrest him. Governor Reed called for a special election to replace him, and though Weeks fought it, the Florida Supreme Court declared his term to have ended when the new election results were certified.
- Special election to fill the remainder of McCarty's term
- This term was only two years as the election schedule was changed so that it would not coincide with presidential elections.
- Graham resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
- MacKay was a candidate in the 1998 election but lost; he succeeded Lawton Chiles after the election but before his successor took office.
- Crist was elected as a member of the Republican Party, and switched to independent in April 2010.
- Due to Ron DeSantis and Jeannette Núñez taking their oath of office ahead of time, they became governor and lieutenant governor at midnight on January 8, rather than waiting for an inauguration ceremony. Thus, Scott and Lopez-Cantera's terms ended at the end of January 7.
- DeSantis' current term expires on January 2, 2023.
- Territorial governor.
- Served in Kentucky.
- Served in Tennessee.
- Served in Georgia
- Served in North Carolina.
- "Former Florida Governors". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "A Guide to Florida Governors and the Florida Cabinet". State Library and Archives of Florida. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- Buccellato, Robert (2015). Florida Governors Lasting Legacies (Images of America). Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-1467113694.
- Sobel, Robert (1978). Biographical directory of the governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. I. Meckler Books. ISBN 9780930466015. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "Constitution of the State of Florida". Florida Legislature. 1968. Archived from the original on December 8, 2008. Retrieved March 31, 2010.
- "Constitution of 1885". State Library and Archives of Florida. 1885. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "Constitution of 1868". State Library and Archives of Florida. 1868. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "Constitution of 1865". State Library and Archives of Florida. 1865. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "Constitution of the State of Florida". State Library and Archives of Florida. 1868. Archived from the original on March 6, 2010. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "Constitution of 1838". State Library and Archives of Florida. 1838. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries". The Council of State Governments. June 25, 2013. Retrieved November 23, 2014.
- FL Const. art. IV, § 1a
- FL Const. art. III, § 8
- FL Const. art. III, § 3c
- FL Const. art. IV, § 8
- "Adams-Onís Treaty". Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History & Culture. Oklahoma Historical Society. Archived from the original on July 31, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- "Andrew Jackson, Commissioner of the United States". Florida Department of State. Retrieved October 28, 2016.
- "Andrew Jackson". State Library and Archives of Florida. Archived from the original on February 2, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Morris, Allen; Joan Perry Morris (1999). The Florida Handbook, 1999–2000. Peninsular Books. ISBN 978-0-9616000-7-5. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Harold D. Moser; David R. Hoth; George H. Hoemann, eds. (1996). The Papers of Andrew Jackson: 1821–1824. University of Tennessee Press. p. 513. ISBN 0-87049-897-5. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. (1902). The Writings of James Monroe. G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 207. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Peters, Virginia Bergman (1979). The Florida Wars. Hamden: The Shoestring Press. pp. 63–74. ISBN 0-208-01719-4.
- Congressional biography
- "Florida and the Civil War" A Short History". Florida Memory. State Library & Archives of Florida. Archived from the original on April 26, 2010. Retrieved July 5, 2010.
- "February 1861–1865". This Day in History. Florida Historical Society. Archived from the original on January 10, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Cox, Merlin (January 1968). "Military Reconstruction in Florida". Florida Historical Quarterly. 46 (3): 219.
- "June in Florida History". This Day in History. Florida Historical Society. Archived from the original on October 14, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- 1838 Const. art III, § 2
- 1861 Const. art. III, § 2
- 1865 Const. art. III, § 2
- 1868 Const. art. V, § 2
- 1885 Const. art. IV, § 2
- FL Const. art. IV, § 5
- FL Const. art. IV, § 2
- 1838 Const. art III, § 18
- 1865 Const. art. III, § 19
- 1868 Const. art. V, § 15
- 1885 Const. art. IV, § 19
- FL Const. art. IV, § 3
- "Whig Party | History, Beliefs, Significance, & Facts". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
- "John Milton". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "Abraham Kurkindolle Allison". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "William Marvin". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "David Shelby Walker". State Library and Archives of Florida. Archived from the original on January 23, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- "Florida Governors' Portraits – Harrison Reed". Museum of Florida History. Archived from the original on April 30, 2013. Retrieved March 30, 2010.
- Davis, William Watson (1913). The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, Volume 53. Columbia University. pp. 550–555. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- Cases argued and adjudged in the Supreme Court of Florida. XIII. State of Florida. 1871. Retrieved July 6, 2010.
- "Thomas Leroy Collins". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "Haydon Burns". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "Daniel Robert Graham". National Governors Association. Retrieved July 10, 2019.
- "Can Crist Win in Florida as an Independent?". Time. May 3, 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2010.
- "DeSantis already governor when ceremony begins". Tampa Bay Times. January 5, 2019. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
- "States' Lines of Succession of Gubernatorial Powers" (PDF). National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). May 2011. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
- "Succession to office of Governor". The Florida Legislature. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
- Allen Morris & Joan Perry Morris, “The Florida Handbook” 2007-2008.
- Charlton W. Tebeau, “A History of Florida” (Revised Edition 1980).