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Governor of Maryland: Wikis


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Thomas Johnson, the first Governor of Maryland after independence. He served from 1777-1779.

The Governor of Maryland heads the executive branch of the government of Maryland, and he is the commander-in-chief of the state's National Guard units. The Governor is the highest-ranking official in the state, and he has a broad range of appointive powers in both the State and local governments, as specified by the Maryland Constitution. Because of the extent of these constitutional powers, the Governor of Maryland has been ranked as being among the most powerful Governors in the United States.[1] The current Governor is Martin O'Malley, a Democrat and a former Mayor of Baltimore who defeated the Republican incumbent Robert Ehrlich in the November 2006 election.[2]


Selection and qualifications

Like most state chief executives in the United States, the Governor of Maryland is elected by the citizens of Maryland to serve a four-year term. The Constitution of Maryland prohibits a Governor from serving more than two consecutive terms.[3] While this does leave the possibility for a Governor to run again for re-election after remaining out of office for least one term, no former Governor has yet run for a third term.[4] An eligible candidate for Governor must be at least 30 years old, and also a resident of and a registered voter in Maryland for the five years preceding the election.[3] If a candidate meets this minimum requirement, he must file his candidacy with the Maryland State Board of Elections, pay a filing fee, file a financial disclosure, and create a legal campaign financial body.[5] The Governor, like all state-wide officials in Maryland, is elected in the even-numbered years in which the election for President of the United States does not occur.[3]

Functions and responsibilities

As the Chief Executive of the State of Maryland, the Governor heads the executive branch of government, which includes all state executive departments and agencies, as well as advisory boards, commissions, committees, and task forces. The main constitutional responsibility of the Governor of Maryland, and any other State's chief executive, is to carry out the business of the state and to enforce the laws passed by the Legislature. The Governor also has some say in these laws, since the Governor has the ability to veto any bill sent to his desk by the Maryland General Assembly, though the Assembly may override that veto. The Governor is also given a number of more specific powers as relates to appropriations of state funds, the appointment of state officials, and also a variety of less prominent and less commonly utilized powers.[3]



Every year, the Governor must present a proposed budget to the Maryland General Assembly. After receiving the proposed budget, the Assembly is then allowed to decrease any portion of the budget for the executive branch, but it may never increase it or transfer funds between executive departments. The Assembly may, however, increase funds for the Legislative and Judicial branches of government.[6] The Governor has the power to veto any law that is passed by the Assembly, including a line item veto, which can be used to strike certain portions of appropriations bills. The Legislature then has the power to override a Governor's veto by ) vote of three-fifths (60%) of the number of members in each house.[3]

The Governor also sits on the Board of Public Works, whose other two members are the Comptroller and the Treasurer. This Board has broad powers in overseeing and approving the spending of state funds. They must approve state expenditures of all general funds and capital improvement funds, excluding expenditures for the construction of state roads, bridges, and highways. It has the power to solicit loans on its own accord either to meet a deficit or in anticipation of other revenues, in addition to approving expenditures of funds from loans authorized by the General Assembly.[7]

Appointment powers

The Governor appoints almost all military and civil officers of the State government, subject to advice and consent of the Maryland State Senate. The Governor also appoints certain boards and commissions in each of the 24 Counties and in Baltimore City, such as local Boards of Elections, commissions notaries public, and he appoints officers to fill vacancies in the elected offices of Attorney General and Comptroller.[3] Should a vacancy arise in the General Assembly, the Governor also fills that vacancy, though the Governor must choose from among the recommendations of the local party organization to which the person leaving the vacancy belonged.[8] Any officer appointed by the Governor, except a member of the General Assembly, is removable by him, if there is a legitimate cause for removal. Among the most prominent of the Governor's appointees are the 24 secretaries and heads of departments that make up the Governor's Cabinet, also known as the Executive Council.[3]

Executive Council

The Governor of Maryland is the Chairman of the Governor's Executive Council (or Cabinet) which coordinates all state government functions. This is composed of the following members, all of whom, except the Lieutenant Governor, are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Maryland State Senate as heads of executive departments [9]:

  • Lieutenant Governor, currently Anthony G. Brown
  • Secretary of State, currently John P. McDonough, Esq.
  • Secretary of Aging, currently Gloria G. Lawlah
  • Secretary of Agriculture, currently Earl F. (Buddy) Hance
  • Secretary of Budget and Management, currently T. Eloise Foster
  • Secretary of Business and Economic Development, currently Christian S. Johansson
  • Secretary of Disabilities, currently Catherine A. Raggio
  • State Superintendent of Schools (appointed by the State Board of Education to direct the Maryland State Department of Education), currently Nancy S. Grasmick, Ph.D
  • Secretary of Environment, currently Shari T. Wilson
  • Secretary of General Services, currently Alvin C. Collins
  • Secretary of Health and Mental Hygiene, currently John M. Colmers
  • Secretary of Housing and Community Development, currently Raymond A. Skinner
  • Secretary of Human Resources, currently Brenda Donald
  • Secretary of Information Technology, currently Elliot H. Schlanger
  • Secretary of Juvenile Services, currently Donald W. DeVore
  • Secretary of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, currently Alexander M. Sanchez
  • Secretary of Natural Resources, currently John R. Griffin
  • Secretary of Planning, currently Richard T. Hall
  • Secretary of Public Safety and Correctional Services, currently Gary D. Maynard
  • Secretary of State Police (commanding officer of the Maryland State Police), currently Col. Terrence B. Sheridan
  • Secretary of Transportation, currently Beverley K. Swaim-Staley
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs, currently Edward J. Chow, Jr.
  • Secretary of Higher Education (head of the Maryland Higher Education Commission), currently James E. Lyons, Ph.D.
  • Adjutant General (head of the Maryland Military Department), currently Maj. Gen. James A. Adkins

Other members of the Governor's Staff may be invited to Cabinet meetings as "attendees".[9]

The Governor also oversees several sub-cabinets that coordinate the activities of a certain function of state government that involves several state departments or agencies. Currently, these are the Base Realignment and Closure Subcabinet, BayStat Subcabinet, Chesapeake Bay cabinet, Children's Cabinet, Governor's Subcabinet for International Affairs, Smart Growth Subcabinet, and Workforce Creation Subcabinet.[10]

Other powers and responsibilities

The Governor is the commander-in-chief of the military forces of the State: the Maryland National Guard and Air National Guard and the Maryland Defense Force, except when these forces have been called into Federal service, which the Federal government has the authority to do. In times of public emergency, the Governor may exercise emergency powers, including the mobilization of these military forces. In the area of criminal justice, the Governor may grant pardons to criminals, commute the sentences of prisoners, or remit fines and forfeitures imposed on people who have been convicted, jailed, or fined for violations of state laws.

In both these areas, and a variety of others, the Governor sits on state and interstate boards and commissions with varying powers. The Governor is also obligated to report on the condition of the state at any time during the year, though this traditionally happens in a State of the State Address each January.[3]

The Governor's Staff

In addition to the various departments and agencies under gubernatorial control, the Governor has an executive staff that assist in coordinating the executive duties. This staff is led by a Chief of Staff, and includes five offices: Intergovernmental Relations, Legal Counsel, Legislative and Policy, Press, and the Governor's Office in Washington, DC. The Chief of Staff has a number of deputies to assist in running these departments. The Governor's staff is appointed and therefore largely exempt from state civil service laws.[3]

History and Evolution of the Office

Former Governor and Vice President of the United States Spiro Agnew, the highest-ranking government official ever to come from Maryland.

During the Colonial period, Maryland's Proprietors, the Lords of Baltimore, who generally remained in England, chose who would serve as the Governor of Maryland on their behalf. Between 1692, when the Baltimores lost control, and 1715, Maryland was a direct Royal Colony, and the Governor was appointed by the British Monarch. The Lords of Baltimore regained their Royal Charter in 1715, and then they resumed choosing the Governors until the beginning of the American Revolution.[3] The first Governor chosen to break this chain of Colonial Governors was Thomas Johnson (1732 – 1819), who took office on March 21, 1777.

Under the Maryland Constitution of 1776, the Governor was chosen for one-year terms by both houses of the General Assembly. An 1838 constitutional amendment allowed voters to elect the Governor to three-year terms from one of three rotating gubernatorial districts: eastern, southern, and western. At each election, only voters from a single gubernatorial election district selected the Governor. The Maryland Constitution of 1851 lengthened the Governor's term of office from three to four years, which brought elections for Governor in line with elections for Federal offices that occur only in even years. Finally, the Constitution of 1864 eliminated the rotating gubernatorial election districts and, since the election of 1868, the Governor has been elected by all the voters of the state.[3]

From 1777 to 1870, the Governor resided in Jennings House in Annapolis. Since 1870, the Governor has resided in the Government House, a Georgian mansion adjacent to the Maryland State House. In addition to being the residence for the Governor and his family, Government House has a number of public rooms that are used by the Governor on official occasions.[11]

Spiro T. Agnew, who was the Governor of Maryland from 1967-1969, later served as the Vice-President of the United States for a time under President Richard M. Nixon, and Agnew is, thus far, the highest-ranking Marylander in the history of the United States.[4] In 1971, the office of Lieutenant Governor of Maryland, which had existed for only a few years in the 1860s, was re-instituted by an amendment to the Maryland Constitution. The Lieutenant Governor, who possesses only those powers and duties that the Governor assigns to him or her, is elected on the same ballot with the Governor, and to the same term-of-office as the Governor. He succeeds to the Governorship only if there is a vacancy in that office.[12] No Lieutenant Governor of Maryland has yet been elected as the Governor in future elections.[4]

As of 2009, Maryland has yet to have been served by a female Governor.[4] However, women were the runners-up in four gubernatorial elections (in 1974, 1994, 1998, and 2002).[13] In addition, one woman has served as the Lieutenant Governor, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, under Gov. Parris Glendening from 1995 to 2003.[4] Another woman, Kristen Cox, who was the Secretary of Disabilities, unsuccessfully ran for Lieutenant Governor as the running mate of the incumbent Governor Robert Ehrlich, when the Lieutenant Governor at that time, Michael Steele, left office to run for the U.S. Senate. Cox was a unique person to run for that office, not only because she is a woman, but also because she is legally blind.[14]

See also


  1. ^ Prah, Pamela (March 9, 2007). "Massachusetts gov rated most powerful". Stateline.Org. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  2. ^ "Governor". Maryland Manual Online. Maryland State Archives. 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Maryland Governor: Origins and Functions". Maryland Manual Online. Maryland State Archives. 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  4. ^ a b c d e "Historical List, Governors of Maryland". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 2007-06-25.  
  5. ^ "Requirements for Filing Candidacy". Maryland State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2007-07-11.  
  6. ^ "Budget and Fiscal Policy". Maryland Department of Legislative Services. Retrieved 2007-07-11.  
  7. ^ "Maryland Board of Public Works: Origin and Functions". Maryland Manual Online. Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 2007-07-11.  
  8. ^ Tallman, Douglas (2005-10-26). "Lawton appointed to District 18 seat". The Gazette. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ Maryland Manual Online
  11. ^ "Government House, A Maryland Treasure". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  12. ^ "Lieutenant Governor: Origins and Functions". Maryland Manual Online. Maryland State Archives. 2006. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  
  13. ^ "Elections by Year". Maryland State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2007-06-27.   and Duggan, Paul (7 October 2005), "Louise Gore, Force in Md. GOP, Dies", Washington Post,, retrieved 20 December 2009  
  14. ^ Otto, Mary; Aratani, Lori (2006-06-30). "Ehrlich Picks Cabinet Member Cox for Ticket". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2007-06-27.  


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