Lieutenant Governors of California

In the history of California, dating back to 1849, there have been 38 elected California Lieutenant Governors and 12 who were appointed or acting Lieutenant Governors. Only 24 of the 38 elected Lieutenant Governors served at least their full four-year term; 13 of those 24 were elected republican Lieutenant Governors who served at least their full four-year term and 12 were elected democratic Lieutenant Governors who served at least their full four-year term. Only 46 people have served at least the four years of the term they were elected to as Governor or Lieutenant Governor of the State of California. Current Governor Gavin Newsom has been elected to two four-year terms as Lieutenant Governor and subsequently elected to two four-year terms as Governor. Current Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis is the only female ever elected Lieutenant Governor who served a four-year term. Mike Curb is the only republican Lieutenant Governor who served at least a full four-year term with a democratic Governor. Curb subsequently served 240 days as Acting Governor during that term. Curb is also the youngest republican (33 years old) and the last republican ever elected.

The Mexican-American War ended February 2, 1848, and Mexico ceded California to the United States along with other territories. A civilian government was formed in 1849, which defined the responsibilities of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, and on September 9, 1850, California became the 31st state admitted to the United States.

In 1862 the Constitution was amended to create a four-year term for the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor. In 1879 the new Constitution defined the powers of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, including the Lieutenant Governor becoming the president of the Senate. The Constitution provides that the Lieutenant Governor becomes the Governor whenever the Governor is out of the state.

On August 11 and 12, 1965, the Lieutenant Governor at the time (Glen Anderson) was unsure of his right to call out the national guard during the Watts riots and it resulted in tremendous destruction that could have otherwise been prevented if the Lieutenant Governor had understood clearly that he was the Governor because the Governor at the time was out of the state. President Lyndon Johnson convened the Federal McCone Commission that launched a major investigation which determined that the Lieutenant Governor was at fault.

In 1979 the Supreme Court ruled that the Lieutenant Governor (Mike Curb) had all the powers and responsibilities of the governorship. In the case of Governor Jerry Brown vs. Lieutenant Governor Mike Curb, Governor Jerry Brown sued the Lieutenant Governor claiming that the Lieutenant Governor did not have the full responsibility of the governorship. Governor Brown was out of the state for 200 days during the first two years of his term, and Curb governed and appointed 431 people to various boards, commissions, the judiciary, and task forces and signed 36 bills, proclamations and executive orders, including ending the enormous California gas line issue, the Rob-A-Home Go-To-Prison Bill, and numerous emergency issues.







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