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 governor is the head of the executive branch of the state’s government, as well as the commander-in-chief of the state’s military. The National Governor's Association ranks the powers of each state's governor in relation to the state's legislature, and the Ohio governor has repeatedly ranked as strong. Ranking is based on six categories:
- Tenure: Ohio has two four-year terms with only two consecutive terms permitted
- Appointment power: The governor has appointment power for most offices with legislative approval
- Budget powers: The governor has sole control of making the state’s budget
- Legislative-budget changing power: The legislature has unlimited power to change the governor’s budget
- Veto power: Ohio’s governor has the line-item veto, and it takes three-fifths of the legislature to overturn a veto
- Whether or not the governors’ party controls the legislature.
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 two-year terms limited to six out of every eight years, but he had no veto power. The Ohio legislature approved all of the governor's appointments to state offices. Additionally, the legislature was primarily responsible for budget issues. However, the governor did serve as the commander of the Ohio Militia, which provided military security to citizens.
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 still did not have the right to veto legislative acts, but the limited amount of terms was taken away. Over the course of the twentieth century, constitutional amendments continually changed the gubernatorial position. For example, 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. To create stability, the 1912 ruling gave governors more independence. 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. Finally, in 1992, another constitutional amendment officially limited Ohio's governor to a total of two four-year terms.
Between 1803 and 2015, sixty-six men and one woman have served as the state's governor. All of Ohio's governors during this period have been Caucasians.