|Governor of Washington|
|Residence||Washington Governor's Mansion|
|Term length||Four years, no term limit|
|Inaugural holder||Elisha P. Ferry|
|Formation||November 11, 1889|
|Deputy||Lieutenant Governor of Washington|
|Salary||$ 182,179 2019|
The governor of Washington is the head of the executive branch of the government of the State of Washington and commander-in-chief of the state's military forces. The officeholder has a duty to enforce state laws, the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Washington Legislature and line-item veto power to cancel specific provisions in spending bills. The Washington Governor may also convene the legislature on "extraordinary occasions".
Washington Territory had 14 territorial governors from its organization in 1853 until the formation of the state of Washington in 1889. Territorial governors were appointed by the President of the United States. Elisha P. Ferry had the longest term of eight years and went on to become the state's first governor. William H. Wallace was appointed governor but never took office due to being elected as the territory's congressional delegate. George Edward Cole was appointed governor and took office, but his appointment was never ratified by the U.S. Senate and he was replaced as governor after four months.
Twenty-two individuals have held the office of Governor of Washington since the state's admission to the Union, with Arthur B. Langlie serving non-consecutive terms. Populist Party candidate John Rankin Rogers is the only non-Democratic or Republican nominee to win office. The most recent governor to be from Eastern Washington was Clarence Martin, elected in 1932. The current governor is Democrat Jay Inslee, who took office on January 16, 2013, and was reelected in 2016 and 2020; his term will expire on January 13, 2025. Washington has had the longest current streak of Democratic governors in the nation, with the last Republican to hold the office being John Spellman in 1985.[a]
With the re-election of Inslee in 2020, Langlie, Daniel J. Evans and Inslee are the only three Washington Governors to be elected to three terms.
Governors of the Territory of Washington
Washington Territory was created on March 2, 1853, from the northern half of Oregon Territory. At this point, Washington Territory also included the northern panhandle of modern Idaho and parts of Montana. The southern half of Idaho was assigned to the Washington Territory in 1859 after Oregon was admitted as a state. Idaho Territory was split from Washington Territory in 1863 giving Washington Territory its final borders.
|Governor||Took office[b]||Left office||Appointed by||Notes|
|Isaac Stevens||December 3, 1853||August 11, 1857||Franklin Pierce|
|Fayette McMullen||September 10, 1857||July 1858||James Buchanan|
|Richard D. Gholson||July 15, 1859||February 14, 1861||[c]|
|William H. Wallace||Appointed April 9, 1861||—||Abraham Lincoln||[d]|
|William Pickering||June 1862||January 8, 1867||[e]|
|George Edward Cole||January 8, 1867||March 4, 1867||Andrew Johnson||[e]|
|Marshall F. Moore||August 26, 1867||1869|
|Alvan Flanders||April 5, 1869||March 14, 1870||Ulysses S. Grant|
|Edward S. Salomon||Appointed March 4, 1870||April 1872|
|Elisha P. Ferry||Appointed April 26, 1872||November 1, 1880||[f]|
|William A. Newell||November 1, 1880||1884||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|Watson C. Squire||Appointed July 2, 1884||April 1887||Chester A. Arthur||[f]|
|Eugene Semple||Appointed April 9, 1887||1889||Grover Cleveland|
|Miles Conway Moore||April 9, 1889||November 11, 1889||Benjamin Harrison|
Governors of the State of Washington
Washington was admitted to the Union on November 11, 1889. The term for governor is four years, commencing on the second Monday in the January following the election. If the office of governor is vacant or the governor is unable to discharge their duties, the lieutenant governor assumes the duties of governor, though still officially retains the office of lieutenant governor. If both the offices of governor and lieutenant governor are unable to fulfill their duties, the secretary of state is next in line, and then the treasurer. There is no limit to the number of terms a governor may serve. The office of lieutenant governor is not elected on the same ticket as the governor.
|#||Governor||Took office||Left office||Office Prior to Ascension||Party||Election||Terms[h]|
|1||Elisha P. Ferry
August 9, 1825 – October 14, 1895
|November 11, 1889||January 9, 1893||10th Governor of the Washington Territory||Republican||1889||1|
October 4, 1850 – June 23, 1910
|January 9, 1893||January 11, 1897||King County Sheriff||1892||1|
|3||John Rankin Rogers
September 4, 1838 – December 26, 1901
|January 11, 1897||December 26, 1901||Washington House of Representatives||Populist||1896||1+1⁄2[i][j]|
February 7, 1856 – October 7, 1937
|December 26, 1901||January 9, 1905||Lieutenant Governor of Washington||Republican||1900||1⁄2[k]|
|5||Albert E. Mead
December 14, 1861 – March 19, 1913
|January 9, 1905||January 27, 1909||Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney||1904||1|
|6||Samuel G. Cosgrove
April 10, 1847 – March 28, 1909
|January 27, 1909||March 28, 1909||Mayor of Pomeroy||1908||1⁄2[j]|
|7||Marion E. Hay
December 9, 1865 – November 21, 1933
|March 28, 1909||January 11, 1913||Lieutenant Governor of Washington||Succeeded from
June 15, 1870 – June 14, 1919
|January 11, 1913||February 13, 1919||Chairman of the State Board of Control||Democratic||1912||1+1⁄2[l]|
|9||Louis F. Hart
January 4, 1862 – December 4, 1929
|February 13, 1919||January 12, 1925||Lieutenant Governor of Washington||Republican||1920||1+1⁄2[m]|
|10||Roland H. Hartley
June 26, 1864 – September 21, 1952
|January 12, 1925||January 9, 1933||Washington House of Representatives||1924||2|
|11||Clarence D. Martin
June 29, 1886 – August 11, 1955
|January 9, 1933||January 13, 1941||Mayor of Cheney||Democratic||1932||2|
|12||Arthur B. Langlie
July 25, 1900 – July 24, 1966
|January 13, 1941||January 8, 1945||Mayor of Seattle||Republican||1940||1|
April 17, 1891 – September 18, 1961
|January 8, 1945||January 12, 1949||U.S. Senator from Washington||Democratic||1944||1|
|14||Arthur B. Langlie
July 25, 1900 – July 24, 1966
|January 12, 1949||January 14, 1957||12th Governor of Washington||Republican||1948||2|
January 21, 1910 – October 10, 2011
|January 14, 1957||January 11, 1965||Washington State Senate||Democratic||1956||2|
|16||Daniel J. Evans
October 16, 1925
|January 11, 1965||January 12, 1977||Washington House of Representatives||Republican||1964||3|
|17||Dixy Lee Ray
September 3, 1914 – January 2, 1994
|January 12, 1977||January 14, 1981||Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs||Democratic||1976||1|
December 29, 1926 – January 15, 2018
|January 14, 1981||January 16, 1985||King County Executive||Republican||1980||1|
August 21, 1936 – March 15, 2013
|January 16, 1985||January 13, 1993||Pierce County Executive||Democratic||1984||2|
March 8, 1939 – May 1, 2017
|January 13, 1993||January 15, 1997||U.S. Representative from WA-7th||1992||1|
January 21, 1950
|January 15, 1997||January 12, 2005||King County Executive||1996||2|
March 24, 1947
|January 12, 2005||January 16, 2013||Attorney General of Washington||2004||2|
February 9, 1951
|January 16, 2013||Incumbent||U.S. Representative from WA-01||2012||3|
Other high offices held
Six of Washington's territorial governors and four of its state governors have served higher federal or confederate offices, or as governors of other states. Three represented Washington Territory as delegates to the U.S. House, and one additionally represented Idaho Territory in the same fashion, as well as serving as Governor of Idaho Territory. Two territorial governors represented eastern states, one as a representative from, and governor of, New Jersey, and one represented Virginia both in the United States and Confederate Houses. Three governors represented the state in the U.S. Senate, and two represented the state in the House. One governor has served in the United States Cabinet. Two of the territorial governors (marked with *) resigned their office to serve as territorial delegates.
|Governor||Gubernatorial term||Other offices held||Source|
|Isaac Stevens||1853–1857||Delegate from Washington Territory*|||
|Fayette McMullen||1857–1859||Representative and Confederate Representative from Virginia|||
|William H. Wallace||1861–1861||Delegate from Washington Territory*, Delegate from Idaho Territory,
Governor of Idaho Territory
|Alvan Flanders||1869–1870||Delegate from Washington Territory|||
|William A. Newell||1880–1884||Representative from New Jersey, Governor of New Jersey|||
|Watson C. Squire||1884–1887||Senator from Washington|||
|Monrad Wallgren||1945–1949||Senator and Representative from Washington|||
|Daniel J. Evans||1965–1977||Senator from Washington|||
|Mike Lowry||1993–1997||Representative from Washington|||
|Gary Locke||1997–2005||Secretary of Commerce, Ambassador to China|||
|Jay Inslee||2013–present||Representative from Washington|
- The District of Columbia has been led by elected Democrats since 1975, but is not a state and does not have governors.
- Due to the long distance between Washington D.C. and Washington Territory, and the slow speed of communications and travel of the day, weeks or months could go by between the appointment of a governor and the governor actually taking office. The actual dates governors took office are sometimes vague; the ones in this list are cited mostly with contemporary news coverage, but other resources and almanacs give slightly different dates.
- Received a leave of absence in May 1860 to move his wife from Texas to Kentucky. He never returned to Washington Territory.
- Appointed as governor, but did not take office as he was elected as a delegate from Washington Territory.
- President Johnson removed Governor Pickering in November 1866. Governor Cole arrived on January 8, 1867, after being appointed governor. Governor Pickering would not relinquish power until the U.S. Senate approved of Governor Cole's nomination on the basis that President Johnson was being impeached. However, the state's legislature looked to Governor Cole as the real governor. The U.S. Senate eventually failed to ratify his nomination.
- Was a resident of Washington Territory at the time of appointment. This could have cut down on the time between appointment and taking office.
- The official numbering includes ten Democrats, 12 Republicans, and John Rogers, who served as both a Democrat and a Populist. Rogers' term is counted as both Populist and Democratic.
- The fractional terms of some governors are not to be understood absolutely literally; rather, they are meant to show single terms during which multiple governors served, due to resignations, deaths and the like.
- Rogers was elected as a Populist for his first term and a Democrat for his second.
- Died in office.
- As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
- Lister became ill during his second term, relinquished his office to the Lieutenant Governor, and died a few months later.
- As lieutenant governor, Hart filled the unexpired term after Lister relinquished his office due to ill health.
- McMullin, Thomas A.; Walker, David (1984). Biographical Directory of American Territorial Governors. Westport, Connecticut: Meckler Publishing. ISBN 978-0-930466-11-4.
- Ficken, Robert E. (Winter 2005–2006). "Figureheads of State". Columbia Magazine. 19 (4). Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- Meany, Edmond S (1915). Governors of Washington : territorial and state. Seattle: University of Washington. Retrieved June 30, 2010.
- "Washington Territorial and State Governors". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
- "Governors of Washington". National Governors Association. Archived from the original on February 16, 2011. Retrieved February 22, 2011.
- "Washington State Constitution". Washington State Legislature. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
- "2013 and 2014 Salary Schedule, Adopted May 22, 2013" (PDF). Washington Citizens' Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 10, 2013. Retrieved February 12, 2014.
- WA Const. art. III, § 2.
- WA Const. art. III, § 8.
- WA Const. art. III, § 5.
- WA Const. art. III, § 12.
- Brunner, Jim (September 20, 2020). "Meet".
- Brunner, Jim (August 11, 2012). "McKenna win would end drought for GOP in races for governor". The Seattle Times. Retrieved March 28, 2020.
- "Founding of Washington Territory and Washington State". HistoryLink.org. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Washington Territory". Chronological History of Idaho. State of Idaho. Archived from the original on June 17, 2010.
- Brosnan, Cornelius James (1918). History of the State of Idaho. Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 117–128. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Glorious News for Washington! Arrival of Governor Stevens" (PDF). Washington Pioneer. Olympia. December 3, 1853. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- "Letter from Gov. Stevens" (PDF). Pioneer and Democrat. Olympia. August 14, 1857. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- "Arrival of Governor McMullen" (PDF). Pioneer and Democrat. Olympia. September 11, 1857. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- Bancroft, Hubert Howe (1890). History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana: 1845–1889, Volume 31. Washington State Library. p. 209. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- "Sworn In" (PDF). Pioneer and Democrat. Olympia. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- McMullin and Walker p. 314
- "Granted Leave of Absence" (PDF). Pioneer and Democrat. Olympia. May 18, 1860. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- McMullin and Walker p. 315
- "Wallace, William". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- "Our New Governor" (PDF). Puget Sound Herald. June 12, 1862. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- "Gubernatorial War!" (PDF). Puget Sound Weekly. January 14, 1867. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- McMullin and Walker pp. 317–318
- "Arrival of General Moore" (PDF). The Vancouver Register. August 31, 1867. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "Flanders, Alvan". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved January 27, 2011.
- McMullin and Walker p. 320
- McMullin and Walker p. 321
- McMullin and Walker p. 322
- "Governor Ferry's Retirement" (PDF). Puget Sound Mail. October 31, 1880. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
- McMullin and Walker pp. 322–328.
- McMullin and Walker p. 325
- McMullin and Walker p. 326
- Snowden, Clinton (1911). History of Washington: the rise and progress of an American state. New York: Century History Company. p. 153. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
- WA Const. art. III, § 4
- "AG, Secretary of State issue joint statement regarding gubernatorial succession in the event of a vacancy". Washington Secretary of State. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
- WA Const. art. III, § 10
- "Constitutional and Statutory Provisions for Number of Consecutive Terms of Elected State Officials" (PDF). National Governor's Association. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 29, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2010.
- "John Rankin Rogers". Washington State University Libraries. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
- "Change of Governor in Washington". The Christian Science Monitor. February 14, 1919. Retrieved January 21, 2011.
- Inslee's third term began on January 13, 2021.
- "Stevens, Isaac Ingalls". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "McMullen, Fayette". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Wallace, William Henson". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Flanders, Alvan". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Newell, William Augustus". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Squire, Watson Carvosso". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Wallgren, Monrad Charles". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Evans, Daniel Jackson". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "Lowry, Maichael Edward". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and Historian of the United States Senate. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
- "U.S. Senate Confirms Gary Locke as Commerce Secretary". United States Department of Commerce. March 24, 2009. Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved July 3, 2010.