The Constitutional Offices
- Governor (1849-Present): Jerry Brown
The Governor is the highest elected office in California, the head of the executive branch of the state government, and the Commander of the National Guard. The Governor has the power to approve or veto legislation, appoint state judges, and fill vacancies in statewide elected offices. The Governor also has the power to grant pardons, reprieves, and to commute judicial punishments.
The Governor is the most Republican of the statewide offices, only four Democrats have held the office since 1900; Culbert L. Olson, Pat Brown, Jerry Brown, and Gray Davis. Term limits now limit Governors to two post-1990 four-year terms, although two, Earl Warren and Jerry Brown were elected to third terms (Warren left after serving a total of ten years). Jerry Brown will become the longest-serving California Governor in 0 days.
Total Governors of California since 1849: 38*
* Does not count the those Lieutenant Governors or other officers who served as Acting Governor for short durations as provided for by Article V, Section 10 of the California State Constitution.
- Lieutenant Governor (1849-Present): Gavin Newsom
The two most important functions of the Lieutenant Governor is to cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie in the State Senate (Gray Davis was the last to do so in 1996) and to assume the powers of the Governor if the Governor leaves office (last done by Goodwin J. Knight in 1953). Although many would assume that this office is a stepping-stone to the Governor's office, only two (Davis and Knight) of the twelve Lieutenant Governors since 1950 have become Governor. Finally, like the Governor's office, only one candidate has held the office for more than eight years; Leo McCarthy.
Where do Lieutenant Governors go?
To answer the frequently asked question "Where do Lieutenant Governors go when they finish their terms", we looked at what the next step was for the 46 Acting, Appointed, or Elected Lieutenant Governors;
7 became Governor by succession, 3 became Governor by election, and 4 ran for Governor and lost.
2 ran for US Senate and won, 3 ran for US Senate and lost. 4 were elected to Congress, and 2 were elected to State Legislature. 2 died in office, and 20 others never again ran for partisan office.
Total Lieutenant Governors of California since 1849: 43*
* The Senate President pro Tem serves as Acting Lieutenant Governor whenever the Lieutenant Governor is out of state, incapacitated, or unable to fulfill the duties of the office. Although five pro Tems served as Acting Lieutenant Governors for extended periods (David C. Broderick, Isaac N. Quinn, Pablo De La Guerra, William Irwin, Stephen M. White, and Arthur H. Breed Sr.), and most recent pro Tems (inlcuding Darrell Steinberg) have served for short periods of time, the above count does not include.
The statewide offices, other than Governor and Lieutenant Governor, were created by the state legislature in 1850. The Statutes of 1850 included; Chapter 2 (created the State Printer), Chapter 4 (creating the State Controller), Chapter 5 (creating the State Treasurer), Chapter 6 (creating the Secretary of State), Chapter 11 (creating the Attorney General), Chapter 14 (creating the State Supreme Court).
- Secretary of State (1849-Present): Debra Bowen [Alex Padilla as of 1/5/15]
The Secretary of State is responsible for the administration of elections in California, as well as the California State Archives. A large part of the Secretary of State's office is chartering corporations and notary public. The longest that any statewide state office has been held by a single political party was the office of Secretary of State, by the Republicans, for 50 years (from 1890 to 1940). Most notable of the Secretaries of State were a father and son pair who held the office for 56 years (with only a two-year gap between them). Unlike the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, four Secretaries of State have been elected at least three times C. F. Curry (three times), March K. Fong Eu (five times), Frank M. Jordan (seven times), and Frank C. Jordan (eight times).
Total California Secretaries of State since 1849: 29 (30 as of 1/5/15)
- Controller (1849-Present): John Chiang [Betty T. Yee as of 1/5/15
Named "Comptroller" until 1862, the office of the Controller is responsible for spending the state's money. The Controller has the authority to investigate and audit all money spent by the state, and is a member of the State Board of Equalization. Currently, the Controller's office has been held by a Democrat since the 1974 General Election (34 years). Only one office has been held by Democrats for a longer period, the US Senate seat currently held by Barbara Boxer, which has been Democratic since 1968 (40 years). Ray L. Riley was elected Controller four times, while Edward P. Colgan won the office five times.
Total California Controllers since 1849: 30 (31 as of 1/5/15)
- Treasurer (1849-Present): Bill Lockyer [John Chiang as of 1/5/15)]
The Treasurer is the "state’s banker". The office, responsible for investing unused state money and paying "state funds when spent by the Controller" has a relatively restricted authority. The first woman to hold statewide office was Ivy Baker Priest, who was elected Treasurer in 1966. The office was held the longest by Charles G. Johnson, who was elected eight times.
Total California Treasurers since 1849: 31 (32 as of 1/5/15)
- Attorney General (1849-Present): Kamala Harris
The Attorney General is the "chief law officer of the State" and leads the California Department of Justice. The Attorney General is responsible for ensuring that the laws of the state are "uniformly and adequately enforced" and also represents the people of California in civil and criminal matters. The longest serving Attorney General was U. S. Webb, who was elected nine times.
Total California Attorney Generals since 1849: 33
- Insurance Commissioner (1988-Present): Dave Jones
The Insurance Commissioner is both the lowest partisan office in California as well as the newest. First created in 1868, the office first became an elected position in 1988. The Commissioner answers public questions and complaints regarding the insurance industry. Licenses, regulates, and examines insurance companies. Only John Garamendi, elected in 1990 and 2002, has served two full terms as Insurance Commissioner.
Total California Insurance Commissioners since 1988: 5
- Superintendent of Public Instruction (1851-Present): Tom Torlakson
Currently, the only non-partisan statewide office. Created as a partisan office in 1851, the office first became nonpartisan in the election of 1914. The Superintendent is "in charge of the California Department of Education, the chief spokesperson for public schools, and provides education policy and direction to local school districts."
Total California Superintendents of Public Instruction since 1851: 26
- State Board of Equalization (1879-Present)
An unfamiliar constitutional office to most Californians, the Board is frequently confused with the Franchise Tax Board. The BOE is the only publicly elected tax commission in the United States. Created in 1870, the Board of Equalization originally consisted of the State Controller and two members appointed by the Governor. When the California Constitution was rewritten in 1879, the number of seats on the board increased to four; one for each congressional district the state had at that time.
[District 1] [District 2] [District 3] [District 4]
Total Members of the State Board of Equalization since 1879: 68 (as of January 3, 2013) (70 as of 1/5/15)
Former Elected Offices
- Clerk of the Supreme Court (1850-1911)
The Clerk of the Supreme Court was established as a partisan elected office on February 14, 1850, and the first election was held late in the same year. The office became an appointed position after voters approved Proposition 20 in 1911. In 1966, Proposition 1A (which also created a full-time Legislature) gave the Supreme Court the ability to appoint and remove the Clerk. "The clerk oversees the administration and management of the court, including supervising and directing the clerk’s office and the calendar coordination office; recruiting counsel in capital appeals and other cases; preparing the court’s calendar; docketing the court’s cases; maintaining the court’s public records; and advising litigants, counsel, and the public of the status of matters before the court." The office exists today, and (as of January 2013) the current Clerk/Administrator of the Supreme Court is Frank A. McGuire.
- Surveyor General (1850-1929)
The office was created in 1850, with the Surveyor General also acting as the Register of the State Lands Office. The Surveyor General was responsible for licensing surveyors, regulating mines, and surveying the Mexican land grants. The office was dissolved in 1929, with the state powers of the Surveyor General and the Bureau of State Lands were incorporated into the CA Department of Finance under the Office of the Governor, and the records being transferred to a Supervisor of Surveys under the US Department of Interior. In 1938, the powers were moved to the State Lands Commission, whose three members are the Lieutenant Governor, Controller, and Director of Finance.
- State Printer (1855-1910)
The office of State Printer was created by second statute passed by the state legislature. The office was abolished in 1852, but brought back in 1854. The office was originally to be elected by the legislature, but became a statewide elected office in 1855. The office became an appointed office and was renamed "Superintendent of State Printing" in 1872, although it regained status as a statewide elected office in 1891. Finally, the office became an appointed position after the election of 1910. The state continues to operate an Office of State Publishing within the Department of General Services. Currently the "OSP prints the Governor's budget, all Legislative bills, more than twelve million (12,000,000) ballot pamphlets, a total of fourteen million (14,000,000) tax forms, approximately five million (5,000,000) DMV handbooks, as well as thousands of other projects for state agencies" including the printing of all bills for the Legislature. The current State Printer is David "Jerry" Hill [press release].
- Railroad Commission (1879-1910)
The Constitution of 1879 created a three-district Railroad Commission to regulate the price of railroad transportation. Following the Public Utilities Act of 1911, the Commission was changed to a five-member body appointed by the Governor, which had supervision over a wide range of public utilities. The body was renamed the California Public Utilities Commission in 1946. The Public Utilities Commission is still a five-member board today, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature.
California's Railroad Commissioners [District 1] [District 2] [District 3]
External Link: Public Utilities Commissioners since 1911
California State Senate (1849-Present)
In California's bicameral state legislature, as in Congress, the Senate is the higher house. The first State Senate (as called for in the Constitution of 1849) was a sixteen-member body elected to a two-year term, with half of the Senators elected at each election. By 1852, when the legislature first met in Vallejo, the number of members had grown to 28. In 1854, the number grew to 34, and 35 in 1858. In 1862, the number had reached 40, where it has remained since. Senators often shared districts until 1886, when the number of Senate Districts increased from 29 to 40.
Fun Facts (as of 12/10/2014)
Total Senators Since 1849: 1,159
Newest Senators: The newest State Senator is Isadore Hall III, elected in a December 2014 Special Election.
Senior Senator: The senior State Senator is currently Jim Nielsen, who is in his fourteenth year in the Senate.
California State Assembly (1849-Present)
The State Assembly is the lower house of the state legislature. During its first session in 1849, the annually-elected State Assembly had 36 members. The number of members grew to 63 in 1852, and finally to 80 in 1854. The Speaker of the Assembly, elected by members of the majority party, is often described as the second most powerful person in state politics (after the Governor). The two longest serving Speakers of the Assembly were Willie Brown (1980-1995) and Jesse Unruh (1961-1969).
Fun Facts (as of 12/9/2014)
Total Assemblymembers Since 1849: 3,743
Newest Assemblymember: The newest State Assemblymembers are the 27 new members of the freshman class, first elected at the November 2014 General Election.
Senior Assemblymember: The current longest-serving Assemblymember is Mike Gatto, who was first elected in a Special Election in June 2010.
United States President: Barack Obama
The President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of the United States government, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and the Head of State. Please note; election results on JoinCalifornia.com reflect only California vote totals. For example, although Richard Nixon won the 1960 Presidential election in California, he failed to secure enough electoral votes to be elected President in that election.
United States Senate
US Senator (Class 1): Dianne Feinstein
US Senator (Class 3): Barbara Boxer
Elected by the State Legislature from 1849 until 1914, when a the 17th Amendment changed the office to a direct election by California voters.
Fun Facts (as of 12/9/2014)
Total US Senators from California Since 1849: 44
Newest US Senators: Barbara Boxer, who was elected the same 1992 election as Feinstein, but was not sworn into office until January 3, 1993.
Senior Senator: Dianne Feinstein who assumed office on November 10, 1992, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Pete Wilson.
Statistics: In addition to the two current Senators, there are currently three living former U.S. Senators from California; Pete Wilson, John Tunney, and John Seymour. Boxer is the youngest, followed by Seymour, Tunney, Wilson, and Feinstein.
United States House of Representatives
With 53 Members of the House of Representatives, California has not only the largest current Congressional Delegation, but also the largest in the history of the United States. In California's first elections, the members were selected "At Large", with each of the three representing the entire state. Because the U.S. Congress maintains detailed biographical information on current and former members, it is much easier to track the statistics listed below.
Fun Facts (as of 1/3/2013)
Total US Representatives from California Since 1849: 361 (rising to 367 on 1/3/2015)
Junior Members of Congress: The newest Representatives are the 13 members of the Class of 2013, who were elected in the General Election on November 6, 2012. The newest Representatives are the six members of the Class of 2015, who were elected in the 2014 General Election. (on 1/3/2015)
Senior Member of Congress: George Miller and Henry Waxman, who have both served since 1975. Nancy Pelosi, who has served since 1987. (on 1/3/2015)
Statistics: The youngest member of California's delegation is Eric Swalwell (born 1980). The oldest living former Congressmen is Don Edwards (born 1915).