UNIT 6—THE TEXAS GOVERNOR
The state governor is generally the most visible state official and the focal point of state government and politics. This leads to the expectation that governors will be strong, dynamic leaders in their respective states. For much of U.S. history, this has been a difficult task for state governors. Following the American Revolution, the memories of colonial abuses led most states to significantly limit the powers of their governors. The Reconstruction experience reinforced these suspicions of executive power abuse in the South. As a result, most former confederate states, including Texas, have very weak governors with limited formal powers.
The Texas governor has powers in four areas: executive, legislative, judicial, and law enforcement/military. The Texas governor possesses most power in the legislative area. As party leader, the governor formulates long-term goals and objectives and attempts to sell these ideas to the legislature and bureaucrats. As chief legislator, the governor will often adopt and lobby for a legislative agenda. The party chief role involves the governor raising money and campaigning for party candidates, particularly those running for the state legislature. In the role as ceremonial leader, the governor cuts ribbons, makes presentations, greets important dignitaries coming to Texas, and accepts invitations to speak. As chief intergovernmental coordinator, the governor works with federal officials, those from other states, and the Texas congressional delegation.
The formal qualifications for Texas governor are few: thirty years of age and a resident of the state for five years preceding the election. However, the informal qualifications are more important. Most state governors have been well-educated, wealthy white, Protestant males with prior political experience. The governor of Texas, at $115,000 (as of 2003), is the second highest paid governor in the nation, despite the relative lack...