From Ohio History Central
Interior of the Governor's office in the Ohio Statehouse, 1907.
The Ohio Constitution of 1803 established the Ohio Governor's Office.
The National Governor's Association ranks the powers of each state's governor in relation to the state's legislature. The Ohio governor has repeatedly ranked as strong. The National Governor's Association utilizes six categories to determine this ranking:
- Tenure: Ohio has two four-year terms with only two consecutive terms permitted: strong.
- Appointment power: The governor has appointment power for most offices with legislative approval: strong.
- Budget powers: Governor has sole control of making the state’s budget: very strong.
- Legislative-budget changing power: Legislature has unlimited power to change governor’s budget: very weak.
- Veto power: Ohio’s governor has the line-item veto, and it takes three-fifths of the legislature to overturn a veto: very strong.
- Governor’s party’s control of the legislature: moderate.
As a result of these powers, Ohio's governor, the National Governor's Association has concluded, is a strong leader who can heavily influence state government.
The National Governor's Association's ranking is surprising, considering how weak the governor was when Ohio first became a state. In the Ohio Constitution of 1803, the governor could serve unlimited two-year terms, but he had no veto power. The governor did serve as the commander of the Ohio Militia. With white Ohioans still facing the threat of Native Americans and British soldiers, this power was an extremely important one. The Ohio legislature also approved all of the governor's appointments to state offices. The legislature also was primarily responsible for budget issues.
In 1851, Ohioans adopted a new state constitution. The Constitution of 1851 created a more democratic system within the state by extending more power to the eligible voters. Nevertheless, the state legislature still dominated the political apparatus. The governor did not have the right to veto legislative acts.
In 1903, Ohio's governor received the veto power. This power was extended to a line-item veto in 1912. Originally, it took two-thirds of the Ohio General Assembly to overturn a veto, but in 1912, it was reduced to three-fifths. The primary reason for this change was the fluctuating control of the Ohio House and Senate by the various political parties. Between 1872 and 1904, control of these two houses changed a total of eighteen times. Each political party desired more control over the governor, especially if the governor belonged to an opposing party.
Over the course of the twentieth century, constitutional amendments changed the governor's office in other ways. In 1913, the Ohio General Assembly granted the governor the power to establish the state budget, pending the approval of the legislature. In 1954, a state constitutional amendment extended the governor's term in office from two years to four years but no governor could serve more than two successive terms. In 1992, another constitutional amendment limited Ohio's governor to a total of two four-year terms.
Since Ohio became a state in 1803, sixty-three men and one woman have served as the state's governor. All of Ohio's governors have been Caucasian.