Governor of North Carolina
|North Carolina Governor|
|Office website:||Official Link|
|2013 FY Budget:||$5,438,279|
|Term limits:||Two consecutive terms|
|Length of term:||4 years|
|Authority:||North Carolina Constitution, Article III, Section I|
Governor of North Carolina
|Next election:||November 5, 2024|
|Last election:||November 3, 2020|
|Other North Carolina Executive Offices|
|Governor • Lieutenant Governor • Secretary of State • Attorney General • Treasurer • Auditor • Superintendent of Education • Agriculture Commissioner • Insurance Commissioner • Natural Resources Commissioner • Labor Commissioner • Public Service Commission|
North Carolina has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. As of January 18, 2021, there are 23 Republican trifectas, 15 Democratic trifectas, and 12 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.
In the 2020 election, Republicans had a net gain of two trifectas and two states under divided government became trifectas. Prior to that election, North Carolina had a divided government. There were 21 Republican trifectas, 15 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments.
- 1 Current officer
- 2 Authority
- 3 Qualifications
- 4 Vacancies
- 5 Duties
- 6 Elections
- 7 Fact checks
- 8 Divisions
- 9 State budget
- 10 Compensation
- 11 Historical officeholders
- 12 History
- 13 Noteworthy events
- 14 Recent news
- 15 Contact information
- 16 See also
- 17 External links
- 18 Footnotes
Under Article III, Section I:
The executive power of the State shall be vested in the Governor.
| 2021 • 2020 • 2019 • 2018|
2017 • 2016 • 2015 • 2014
2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010
|Current Lt. Governors|
|Lt. Governor Elections|
| 2021 • 2020 • 2019 • 2018|
2017 • 2016 • 2015 • 2014
2013 • 2012 • 2011 • 2010
Candidates for the office of the governor must be:
- at least 30 years old
- a citizen of the United States for at least five years
- a resident of North Carolina for at least two years
Additionally, no governor-elect may take office until he or she has taken an oath before the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
- See also: How gubernatorial vacancies are filled
Details of vacancies are addressed under Article III, Section 3.
The lieutenant Governor-elect takes office as the governor if the governor-elect fails to qualify. The lieutenant governor also takes over as governor any time the sitting governor dies, resigns or is removed from office.
If the governor is absent or unable to discharge the office due to mental or physical illness, the lieutenant governor becomes the acting governor.
If the governor wishes to declare his temporary or permanent inability to discharge the office, he does so in writing, making a declaration to the attorney general. The governor may also resume his office by making a similar written declaration to the attorney general.
The General Assembly of North Carolina may take a vote and declare, by a two-thirds majority of both chambers, that the governor is unfit for the office by reason of mental incapacity. The legislature shall then give the governor notice and hear the case before a joint session. When the legislature is in recess, the General Council may convene for the same purpose and follow the same procedure.
Removing the governor from office for any other reason must be done as an impeachment.
Excepting the governor's use of the State Seal of North Carolina and the gubernatorial power to make vacancy appointments, all constitutional duties are laid out in Article III, Section 5.
The governor heads the Council of State. The governor is responsible for preparing and presenting the state budget to the General Assembly of North Carolina. Additionally, the governor of North Carolina has extensive powers of appointment of executive branch officials, some judges, and members of boards and commissions. The governor serves as commander-in-chief of the state military forces except in cases when they are deployed by the federal government.
Other duties and privileges of the office include:
- Residing at the official residence of the Governor
- Making a periodic address to the state legislature concerning the state of North Carolina and giving recommendations to the legislature
- Regularly monitoring the state budget to ensure that principal and interest on bonds and notes are paid promptly, and "effect[ing] the necessary economies" if revenue will not be sufficient to meet expenditures
- Granting "reprieves, commutations, and pardons," not including convictions for impeachment
- Convening extraordinary sessions of the state legislature
- Appointing all offices "not otherwise provided for" subject to the approval of the Senate
- Requiring written information from the head of any administrative department of office on the state of the office
- Reorganizing the executive branch by making "such changes in the allocation of offices and agencies and in the allocation of those functions, powers, and duties as he considers necessary for efficient administration"
- Reconvening the regular session of the General Assembly, not more than 40 days after sine die, for the sole purpose of reconsidering bills vetoed by the Governor
- Keeping and using "The Great Seal of the State of North Carolina" and signing all commissions granted by the state of North Carolina (§ 10)
- Making vacancy appointments to all other executive offices established by the constitution, including interim appointments
North Carolina elects governors in the presidential elections, that is, in leap years. For North Carolina, 2020, 2024, 2028, and 2032 are all gubernatorial election years. Legally, the gubernatorial inauguration is always set for the first day in the January following an election.
General election candidates
- Roy Cooper (Incumbent) (Democratic Party) ✔
- Dan Forest (Republican Party)
- Al Pisano (Constitution Party)
- Steven DiFiore II (Libertarian Party)
= candidate completed the Ballotpedia Candidate Connection survey.
Democratic primary candidates
Republican primary candidates
The general election for governor was held on November 8, 2016.Roy Cooper defeated incumbent Pat McCrory and Lon Cecil in the North Carolina governor election.
|North Carolina Governor, 2016|
|Republican||Pat McCrory Incumbent||48.80%||2,298,927|
|Source: North Carolina Secretary of State|
- See also: States with gubernatorial term limits
North Carolina governors are restricted to two consecutive terms in office, after which they must wait one term before being eligible to run again.
|No person elected to the office of Governor ... shall be eligible for election to more than two consecutive terms of the same office.|
To view the electoral history dating back to 2000 for the office of Governor of North Carolina, Click [show] to expand the section.
On November 2, 2004, Mike Easley won re-election to the office of Governor of North Carolina. He defeated Patrick Ballantine and Barbara Howe in the general election.
On November 7, 2000, Mike Easley won election to the office of Governor of North Carolina. He defeated Richard Vinroot, Barbara Howe and Douglas Schell in the general election.
|Fact check/Did recent bills limit North Carolina's gubernatorial powers? January 27, 2017|
|A Huffington Post article on North Carolina's legislative battles claimed that recently passed bills "drastically limit [Democratic Gov. Roy] Cooper’s ability to make appointments to various state boards and departments."|
Did recent bills "drastically limit" Gov. Cooper’s ability to make state board and department appointments? Read Ballotpedia's fact check »
Note: Ballotpedia's state executive officials project researches state official websites for information that describes the divisions (if any exist) of a state executive office. That information for the Governor of North Carolina has not yet been added. After extensive research we were unable to identify any relevant information on state official websites. If you have any additional information about this office for inclusion on this section and/or page, please email us.
Role in state budget
- See also: North Carolina state budget and finances
- Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies in July.
- State agency budget requests are submitted in October.
- Agency hearings are held in October and December.
- The governor submits his or her proposed budget to the North Carolina State Legislature in early February.
- The legislature adopts a budget in June. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
- The biennial budget cycle begins in July.
The governor is constitutionally and statutorily required to submit a balanced budget. In turn, the legislature is required by statute to pass a balanced budget.
Governor's office budget
The budget for the governor's office in Fiscal Year 2013 was $5,438,279.
|The officers whose offices are established by this Article shall at stated periods receive the compensation and allowances prescribed by law, which shall not be diminished during the time for which they have been chosen.|
In 2013, the governor's salary was increased to $141,265.
In 2010, the governor was paid $139,590 a year, the 20th highest gubernatorial salary in America.
There have been 75 governors of North Carolina since 1776. Of the 75 officeholders, 39 were Democratic, 12 Democratic-Republican, eight Republican, five Federalists, five Whigs, four with no party and two Anti-Federalists.
|List of Former Officeholders from 1776-Present|
|1||Richard Caswell||1776 - 1780||No Party|
|2||Abner Nash||1780 - 1781||No Party|
|3||Thomas Burke||1781 - 1782||No Party|
|4||Alexander Martin||1782 - 1785||Federalist|
|5||Richard Caswell||1785 – 1787||No Party|
|6||Samuel Johnston||1787 - 1789||Federalist|
|7||Alexander Martin||1789 – 1792||Federalist|
|8||Richard Dobbs Spaight||1792 - 1795||Anti-Federalist|
|9||Samuel Ashe||1795 - 1798||Anti-Federalist|
|10||William Richardson Davie||1798 - 1799||Federalist|
|11||Benjamin Williams||1799 - 1802||Democratic-Republican|
|12||James Turner||1802 - 1805||Democratic-Republican|
|13||Nathaniel Alexander||1805 - 1807||Democratic-Republican|
|14||Benjamin Williams||1807 – 1808||Democratic-Republican|
|15||David Stone||1808 - 1810||Democratic-Republican|
|16||Benjamin Smith||1810 - 1811||Democratic-Republican|
|17||William Hawkins||1811 - 1814||Democratic-Republican|
|18||William Miller||1814 - 1817||Democratic-Republican|
|19||John Branch||1817 - 1820||Democratic-Republican|
|20||Jesse Franklin||1820 - 1821||Democratic-Republican|
|21||Gabriel Holmes||1821 - 1824||Democratic-Republican|
|22||Hutchins Gordon Burton||1824 - 1827||Federalist|
|23||James Iredell||1827 - 1828||Democratic-Republican|
|24||John Owen||1828 - 1830||Democratic|
|25||Montfort Stokes||1830 - 1832||Democratic|
|26||David Lowry Swain||1832 - 1835||Whig|
|27||Richard Dobbs Spaight||1835 - 1836||Democratic|
|28||Edward Bishop Dudley||1836 - 1841||Whig|
|29||John Motley Morehead||1841 - 1845||Whig|
|30||William Alexander Graham||1845 - 1849||Whig|
|31||Charles Manly||1849 - 1850||Whig|
|32||David Settle Reid||1851 - 1854||Democratic|
|33||Warren Winslow||1854 - 1855||Democratic|
|34||Thomas Bragg||1855 - 1859||Democratic|
|35||John Willis Ellis||1859 - 1861||Democratic|
|36||Henry Toole Clark||1861 - 1862||Democratic|
|37||Zebulon Baird Vance||1862 - 1865||Democratic|
|38||William Woods Holden||1865 - 1865||Republican|
|39||Jonathan Worth||1865 - 1868||Democratic|
|40||William Woods Holden||1868 – 1870||Republican|
|41||Tod Robinson Caldwell||1870 - 1874||Republican|
|42||Curtis Hooks Brogden||1874 - 1877||Republican|
|43||Zebulon Baird Vance||1877 – 1879||Democratic|
|44||Thomas Jordan Jarvis||1879 - 1885||Democratic|
|45||Alfred Moore Scales||1885 - 1889||Democratic|
|46||Daniel Gould Fowle||1889 - 1891||Democratic|
|47||Thomas Michael Holt||1891 - 1893||Democratic|
|48||Elias Carr||1893 - 1897||Democratic|
|49||Daniel Lindsay Russell||1897 - 1901||Republican|
|50||Charles Brantley Aycock||1901 - 1905||Democratic|
|51||Robert Broadnax Glenn||1905 - 1909||Democratic|
|52||William Walton Kitchin||1909 - 1913||Democratic|
|53||Locke Craig||1913 - 1917||Democratic|
|54||Thomas Walter Bickett||1917 - 1921||Democratic|
|55||Cameron A. Morrison||1921 - 1925||Democratic|
|56||Angus Wilton Mclean||1925 - 1929||Democratic|
|57||Oliver Max Gardner||1929 - 1933||Democratic|
|58||John Christopher Blucher Ehringhaus||1933 - 1937||Democratic|
|59||Clyde Roark Hoey||1937 - 1941||Democratic|
|60||Joseph Melville Broughton||1941 - 1945||Democratic|
|61||Robert Gregg Cherry||1945 - 1949||Democratic|
|62||William Kerr Scott||1949 - 1953||Democratic|
|63||William Bradley Umstead||1953 - 1954||Democratic|
|64||Luther Hartwell Hodges||1954 - 1961||Democratic|
|65||James Terry Sanford||1961 - 1965||Democratic|
|66||Dan Killian Moore||1965 - 1969||Democratic|
|67||Robert Walter Scott||1969 - 1973||Democratic|
|68||James E. Holshouser||1973 - 1977||Republican|
|69||James B. Hunt||1977 - 1985||Democratic|
|70||James G Martin||1985 - 1993||Republican|
|71||James B. Hunt||1993 – 2001||Democratic|
|72||Michael F. Easley||2001 - 2009||Democratic|
|73||Bev Perdue||2009 - 2013||Democratic|
|74||Pat McCrory||2013 – 2017||Republican|
|75||Roy Cooper||2017 – present||Democratic|
Partisan balance 1992-2013
From 1992 to 2013 in North Carolina, there were Democratic governors in office for 20 years, while there were Republican governors in office the two years, including the final year (2013). North Carolina is one of seven states that were run by a Democratic governor for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992 and 2013. North Carolina was under a Republican trifecta for the final year of the study period.
Across the country, there were 493 years of Democratic governors (44.82%) and 586 years of Republican governors (53.27%) from 1992 to 2013.
Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.
SQLI and Partisanship
The chart below depicts the partisanship of the North Carolina state government and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. During the years of the study, North Carolina experienced many years under a Democratic trifecta, from 1993 to 1994 and from 1999 to 2010. In 2013, however, this trend switched, and the state experienced a Republican trifecta instead. North Carolina's SQLI rating was in the 30s for most of the years of the study, with its lowest ranking in 2003, finishing 41st. However, in more recent years of the study, the state's ranking improved. Its highest ranking was 11th in 2011 during a divided government.
- SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: 30.08
- SQLI average with Republican trifecta: N/A
- SQLI average with divided government: 30.89
Conflicts between Gov. Roy Cooper and the General Assembly of North Carolina
The 2016 election changed the political landscape of North Carolina. Before the election, Republicans held a state government trifecta, meaning they controlled the governor's office and both chambers of the legislature. As a result of the 2016 election, however, Democrats took control of the governor's office, while Republicans held a 35-15 majority in the Senate and a 74-46 majority in the House, giving them the three-fifths majority needed in each chamber to override gubernatorial vetoes. In losing the 2016 election, incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory (R) became the first North Carolina governor in North Carolina history to lose in a bid for re-election. He was defeated by North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) by 10,263 votes. McCrory did not concede the race until almost a month after the election. He requested a recount since unofficial vote totals had him within 10,000 votes of Cooper.
Following McCrory's concession, conflicts began to emerge between Cooper and the General Assembly of North Carolina. Before Cooper (D) was sworn in, the Republican-controlled legislature began passing legislation that Democrats argued was intended to curtail the governor's power. Legislation included efforts to restructure the state board of elections, to require Senate approval of cabinet-level appointments, and to decrease the number of governor-appointed judges on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Senate Minority Leader Dan Blue (D) said of the legislation, "What we’re dealing with is a political disaster. Let’s deal with the reality: It’s a power grab. If McCrory had won the election, we wouldn’t be here now, reducing the number of positions he has control over." Cooper said that the legislation had been "unconstitutional and anything but bipartisan." Republicans maintained that the legislation had been discussed for years and that it was returning power to the legislature that was taken away by Democrats years before. Sen. Chad Barefoot (R) said the legislation returned "power that was grabbed during Democratic administrations in the 1990s, and some in the '70s." Republican Rep. David Lewis said of the legislation, "I think, to be candid with you, that you will see the General Assembly look to reassert its constitutional authority in areas that may have been previously delegated to the executive branch."
|• Did recent bills limit North Carolina's gubernatorial powers?|
|• Did the North Carolina legislature eliminate state supreme court oversight of the General Assembly?|
The link below is to the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms North Carolina Governor. These results are automatically generated from Google. Ballotpedia does not curate or endorse these articles.
Office of the Governor
20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
- "North Carolina State Constitution," accessed Sept. 30, 2015
- ABC 11 News, "Roy Cooper sworn in as North Carolina governor," January 1, 2017
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management, "2011-2013 Post Legislative Budget Summary," accessed April 13, 2013
- Council of State Governments, "Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries, 2016," accessed August 27, 2016
- Council of State Governments, "Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries," accessed September 29, 2015
- Council of State Governments, "Selected State Administrative Officials: Annual Salaries," accessed December 3, 2014
- Council of State Governments, "CSG Releases 2013 Governor Salaries," June 25, 2013
- Sunshine Review,
- National Governors Association, " Former governors of North Carolina," accessed June 21, 2013
- Politico, "North Carolina governor alleges voter fraud in bid to hang on," November 21, 2016
- The Atlantic, "North Carolina's 'Legislative Coup' Is Over, and Republicans Won," December 16, 2016
- Twitter, "Roy Cooper," December 30, 2016
- USA Today, "GOP N.C. governor signs bill curbing Democrat successor's power," December 17, 2016
- NY Times, "North Carolina Governor Signs Law Limiting Successor’s Power," December 16, 2016
- CNN, "NC's GOP governor signs bill curbing successor's power," December 30, 2016
- The Hill, "NC governor vetoes bill allowing a new primary in disputed House race," December 21, 2018
State of North Carolina
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