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Twenty-three people have served as governor over 27 distinct terms. All of the repeat governors were in the state's earliest years, when George W. P. Hunt and Thomas Edward Campbell alternated as governor for 17 years and, after a two-year gap, Hunt served another term. One governor, Evan Mecham, was successfully impeached, and one, Fife Symington, resigned upon being convicted of a felony. The longest-serving governor was Hunt, who was elected seven times and served just under fourteen years. The longest single stint was that of Bruce Babbitt, who was elected to two four-year terms after succeeding to the office following the death of his predecessor, Wesley Bolin, serving nearly nine years total. Bolin had the shortest tenure, dying less than five months after succeeding as governor. Four governors were actually born in Arizona: Campbell, Sidney Preston Osborn, Rose Mofford, and Babbitt. Arizona has had four female governors, the most in the United States, and was the first--and until 2019 (when Michelle Lujan Grisham succeeded Susana Martinez in neighboring New Mexico) the only--state where female governors served consecutively. Because of a string of deaths in office, resignations, and an impeachment, Arizona has not had a governor whose complete term of service both began and ended because of "normal" election circumstances since Jack Williams was in office, from 1967 to 1975.
The current Governor is Republican Doug Ducey, who took office on January 5, 2015.
In Tucson between April 2 and April 5, 1860, a convention of settlers from the southern half of New Mexico Territory drafted a provisional constitution for "Arizona Territory," three years before the United States would create such a territory. This proposed territory consisted of the part of New Mexico Territory south of 33° 40' north. On April 2, they elected a governor, Dr. Lewis S. Owings. The provisional territory was to exist until such time as an official territory was created, but that proposal was rejected by the U.S. Congress at the time.
On March 16, 1861, soon before the American Civil War broke out, a convention in Mesilla voted that the provisional territory should secede from the Union and join the Confederacy. Dr. Lewis S. Owings remained on as the provisional governor of the territory.
The Confederacy took ownership of the territory on August 1, 1861, when forces led by Lieutenant Colonel John R. Baylor won decisive control of the territory, and Baylor proclaimed himself governor. The Arizona Territory (Confederate) was formally organized on January 18, 1862. On March 20, 1862, Baylor issued an order to kill all the adult Apache and take their children into slavery. When Confederate PresidentJefferson Davis learned of this order, he strongly disapproved and demanded an explanation. Baylor wrote a letter December 29, 1862, to justify his decision, and after this was received, Davis relieved Baylor of his post and commission, calling his letter an "avowal of an infamous crime." By that time, the Confederate government of Arizona Territory was in exile in San Antonio, Texas, as the territory had been effectively lost to Union forces in July 1862; no new governor was appointed.
The state constitution of 1912 called for the election of a governor every two years. The term was increased to four years by a 1968 amendment. The constitution originally included no term limit, but an amendment passed in 1992 allows governors to succeed themselves only once; before this, four governors were elected more than twice in a row. Gubernatorial terms begin on the first Monday in the January following the election. Governors who have served the two term limit can run again after four years out of office.
Arizona is one of seven states which does not have a lieutenant governor; instead, in the event of a vacancy in the office of governor, the Secretary of State, if elected, succeeds to the office. If the secretary of state was appointed, rather than elected, or is otherwise ineligible to hold the office of governor, the first elected and eligible person in the line of succession assumes the office. The state constitution specifies the line of succession to be the Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer and Superintendent of Public Instruction, in that order. If the governor is out of the state or impeached, the next elected officer in the line of succession becomes acting governor until the governor returns or is cleared. In either case, any partial term counts toward the limit of two consecutive terms.
To date, the line of succession has gone beyond the secretary of state only once, when Bruce Babbitt, as attorney general, became governor upon the death of Wesley Bolin; Rose Mofford, then serving as secretary of state, had been appointed to replace Bolin after Bolin succeeded to the governorship. Bolin had become governor when Raúl Héctor Castro resigned to accept appointment as U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Mofford later became acting governor after Evan Mecham was impeached by the House of Representatives, and succeeded to the governorship when Mecham was removed from office after his conviction by the Senate.
^The range given is from the date the governor took the oath of office in Arizona, to the date the governor left office. Due to the distance from Washington, D.C., to Arizona, many governors were appointed and confirmed months before being able to exercise power in the territory.
^Gurley died on August 19, 1863, prior to taking office as governor.
^The governor's website labeled Doug Ducey as the 23rd governor; based on this, each governor is numbered only once, regardless of how many distinct terms they served. Repeat terms are listed with the governor's original number in italics.
^ abInitial results showed that Campbell had won by 30 votes, but Hunt challenged the results, claiming that several precincts had experienced fraudulent voting. The Arizona Supreme Court named Campbell governor on January 27, 1917, and forced Hunt to surrender his office. Hunt continued fighting in court, and on December 22, 1917, was declared the winner of the election by 43 votes. Campbell vacated the office three days later.
^ abWhile the constitutional date for when Mecham succeeded Babbitt is January 5, 1987, sources are split between saying the inauguration happened on January 5 or January 6.
^The secretary of state at the time of Bolin's death had been appointed, not elected, and thus not in the line of succession according to the Arizona constitution. Therefore, as attorney general, Babbitt became governor.
^Mecham was impeached and removed from office on charges of obstruction of justice and misuse of government funds, though he was later acquitted.
^ abcArizona adopted runoff voting after Evan Mecham won with only 43% of the vote in 1986. The 1990 election was very close, and a runoff was held on February 26, 1991, which Symington won, and he was inaugurated on March 6, 1991.
^Lincoln Library, Carl Sandburg Collections (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Library) (1897). "Arizona". Appletons' Annual Cyclopaedia and Register of Important Events. 3rd. series, Volume 1 (1896 ed.). p. 26. Retrieved 2008.
^ abRalph E. Hughes v. Douglas K. MartinArchived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine (PDF), (Arizona Supreme Court 2002-08-20). "Nelson involved two allegedly conflicting amendments both approved by voters in the 1968 election, to Article 5 of the Arizona Constitution. ... The other amendment, proposition 104, extended the term of offices of the executive department, including the office of state auditor, from two years to four years."