List of Governors of Iowa

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Governor of Iowa
Seal of the State of Iowa
Terry Branstad by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Terry E. Branstad

since January 14, 2011
StyleThe Honourable
ResidenceTerrace Hill
Term lengthFour years, no term limits
Inaugural holderAnsel Briggs; 1846
FormationConstitution of Iowa
SuccessionEvery four years, unless re-elected
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Governor of Iowa
Seal of the State of Iowa
Terry Branstad by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Terry E. Branstad

since January 14, 2011
StyleThe Honourable
ResidenceTerrace Hill
Term lengthFour years, no term limits
Inaugural holderAnsel Briggs; 1846
FormationConstitution of Iowa
SuccessionEvery four years, unless re-elected

The Governor of Iowa is the chief executive of the U.S. state of Iowa. The governor is the head of the executive branch of Iowa's state government[1] and is charged with enforcing state laws.[2] The governor has the power to either approve or veto bills passed by the Iowa State Legislature,[3] to convene the legislature,[4] and to grant pardons, except in cases of treason and impeachment.[5] The governor is also the commander-in-chief of the state's military forces.[6]

There have been 41 governors of Iowa. The longest-serving governor is Terry Branstad, who served from 1983 to 1999, and was elected again in 2010; he is the second longest-serving governor in U.S. history, behind George Clinton. The shortest-serving governor was Robert D. Fulton, who served 16 days. The current governor is Republican Terry E. Branstad, who took office on January 14, 2011.


Governor of the Territory of Iowa[edit]

For the period before Iowa Territory was formed, see the list of Governors of Wisconsin Territory.

Iowa Territory was formed on July 4, 1838, from Wisconsin Territory. It had three governors appointed by the President of the United States. The first governor did not arrive for six weeks after the territory had been created; in the interim, territorial secretary William B. Conway acted as governor.[7]

GovernorTook officeLeft officeAppointed by
Robert LucasAugust 15, 1838May 13, 1841[a]Martin Van Buren
John ChambersMay 13, 1841[a]November 18, 1845[b]William Henry Harrison
James ClarkeNovember 18, 1845[b]December 28, 1846[c]James K. Polk

Governors of the State of Iowa[edit]

The southeast portion of Iowa Territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Iowa on December 3, 1846; the remainder became unorganized territory.

The first state constitution of 1846 created the office of governor, to have a four-year term,[10] with no specific start date for the term. The original constitution of 1857 reduced this term to two years,[11] but an amendment in 1972 increased this back to four years.[12] The 1857 constitution set the start of the term to the second Monday in the January following the election,[13] which was changed to the day after that by a 1988 amendment.[14]

The office of lieutenant governor was created in the 1857 constitution, elected for the same term as the governor.[15] An amendment in 1988 specified that the lieutenant governor would be elected on the same ticket as the governor.[16] If the office of governor becomes vacant, the office devolves upon the lieutenant governor for the remainder of the term or vacancy.[17] Prior to 1857, if the office of governor became vacant, the state secretary of state would act as governor.[18] There is no term limit on the number of terms a governor may serve.


      Democratic (10)       Whig (1)       Republican (31)

#[d]GovernorTerm startTerm endPartyLt. Governor[e][f]Term[g]
1 Ansel BriggsDecember 3, 1846December 4, 1850DemocraticNone1[h]
2 Stephen P. HempsteadDecember 4, 1850December 9, 1854Democratic2
3 James W. GrimesDecember 9, 1854January 13, 1858Whig3[i]
4 Ralph P. LoweJanuary 13, 1858January 11, 1860Republican Oran Faville4[j]
5 Samuel J. KirkwoodJanuary 11, 1860January 14, 1864Republican Nicholas J. Rusch5–6
 John R. Needham
6 William M. StoneJanuary 14, 1864January 16, 1868Republican Enoch W. Eastman7–8
 Benjamin F. Gue
7 Samuel MerrillJanuary 16, 1868January 11, 1872Republican John Scott9–10
 Madison Miner Walden[k]
 Henry C. Bulis
8 Cyrus C. CarpenterJanuary 11, 1872January 13, 1876Republican Henry C. Bulis11–12
 Joseph Dysart
9 Samuel J. KirkwoodJanuary 13, 1876February 1, 1877Republican Joshua G. Newbold13[l]
10 Joshua G. NewboldFebruary 1, 1877January 17, 1878RepublicanVacant13[m]
11 John H. GearJanuary 17, 1878January 12, 1882Republican Frank T. Campbell14–15
12 Buren R. ShermanJanuary 12, 1882January 14, 1886Republican Orlando H. Manning16–17
13 William LarrabeeJanuary 14, 1886February 27, 1890[n]Republican John A.T. Hull18–19
14 Horace BoiesFebruary 27, 1890[n]January 11, 1894Democratic Alfred N. Poyneer[o]20–21
 Samuel L. Bestow
15 Frank D. JacksonJanuary 11, 1894January 16, 1896Republican Warren S. Dungan22
16 Francis M. DrakeJanuary 16, 1896January 13, 1898Republican Matt Parrott23
17 Leslie M. ShawJanuary 13, 1898January 16, 1902Republican James C. Milliman24–25
18 Albert B. CumminsJanuary 16, 1902November 24, 1908Republican John Herriott26–28[l][p]
 Warren Garst
19 Warren GarstNovember 24, 1908January 14, 1909RepublicanVacant28[m]
20 Beryl F. CarrollJanuary 14, 1909January 16, 1913Republican George W. Clarke29–30
21 George W. ClarkeJanuary 16, 1913January 11, 1917Republican William L. Harding31–32
22 William L. HardingJanuary 11, 1917January 13, 1921Republican Ernest Robert Moore33–34
23 Nathan E. KendallJanuary 13, 1921January 15, 1925Republican John Hammill35–36
24 John HammillJanuary 15, 1925January 15, 1931Republican Clem F. Kimball[q]37–39
 Arch W. McFarlane
25 Daniel Webster TurnerJanuary 15, 1931January 12, 1933Republican Arch W. McFarlane40
26 Clyde L. HerringJanuary 12, 1933January 14, 1937Democratic Nelson G. Kraschel41–42
27 Nelson G. KraschelJanuary 14, 1937January 12, 1939Democratic John K. Valentine43
28 George A. WilsonJanuary 12, 1939January 14, 1943Republican Bourke B. Hickenlooper44–45
29 Bourke B. HickenlooperJanuary 14, 1943January 11, 1945Republican Robert D. Blue46
30 Robert D. BlueJanuary 11, 1945January 13, 1949Republican Kenneth A. Evans47–48
31 William S. BeardsleyJanuary 13, 1949November 21, 1954Republican Kenneth A. Evans49–51[q]
 William H. Nicholas
 Leo Elthon
32 Leo ElthonNovember 22, 1954January 13, 1955RepublicanVacant51[m]
33 Leo A. HoeghJanuary 13, 1955January 17, 1957Republican Leo Elthon52
34 Herschel C. LovelessJanuary 17, 1957January 12, 1961Democratic William H. Nicholas[o]53–54
 Edward J. McManus
35 Norman A. ErbeJanuary 12, 1961January 17, 1963Republican W. L. Mooty[r]55
36 Harold E. HughesJanuary 17, 1963January 1, 1969Democratic W. L. Mooty56–58[l]
 Robert D. Fulton
37 Robert D. FultonJanuary 1, 1969January 16, 1969DemocraticVacant58[m]
38 Robert D. RayJanuary 16, 1969January 14, 1983Republican Roger Jepsen59–63[s]
 Arthur A. Neu
 Terry E. Branstad
39 Terry E. BranstadJanuary 14, 1983January 15, 1999Republican Robert T. Anderson[r]64–67
 Jo Ann Zimmerman[r]
 Joy Corning
40 Tom VilsackJanuary 15, 1999January 12, 2007Democratic Sally Pederson68–69
41 Chet CulverJanuary 12, 2007January 14, 2011Democratic Patty Judge70
42 Terry E. BranstadJanuary 14, 2011IncumbentRepublican Kim Reynolds71[t]

Living former governors[edit]

As of September 2014, four former governors were alive, the oldest being Robert D. Ray (1969–1983, born 1928). The most recent governor to die was Leo A. Hoegh (1955–1957), on July 15, 2000. The most recently serving governor to die was Harold E. Hughes (1963–1969), on October 23, 1996.

GovernorGubernatorial termDate of birth
Robert D. Fulton1969(1929-05-13) May 13, 1929 (age 85)
Robert D. Ray1969–1983(1928-09-26) September 26, 1928 (age 86)
Tom Vilsack1999–2007(1950-12-13) December 13, 1950 (age 63)
Chet Culver2007–2011(1966-01-25) January 25, 1966 (age 48)


  1. ^ a b Chambers was appointed on March 25 to the position of territorial governor, to take office when sworn in. He arrived in the state on May 12 and took office the next day. Lucas was out of the capital at the time and did not formally resign his commission until June 17, per a letter written to U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster.[8]
  2. ^ a b Clark was appointed on November 18;[9] it is unknown what specific date he assumed office.
  3. ^ Although Ansel Briggs was sworn in as governor of the state on December 3, it remained a territory until December 28.[9]
  4. ^ There is no official numbering, and different governors have interpreted it differently, based on if repeat terms are numbered.[19] This article includes numbering for every distinct term in office.
  5. ^ The office of Lieutenant Governor was created in the 1857 constitution.[15]
  6. ^ Lieutenant governors represented the same party as their governor unless noted.
  7. ^ This indicates which terms a governor served; some served in multiple terms, indicated by a repeated number, due to deaths or resignations, while other served for multiple terms, indicated by a given range.
  8. ^ Briggs was sworn into office 25 days before the state was formally admitted.[20]
  9. ^ The election schedule changed during Grimes' term, switching to odd-numbered years and shortening his term by nearly a year.
  10. ^ Lowe was the first governor elected under the 1857 constitution, which shortened terms to two years.
  11. ^ Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States House of Representatives.
  12. ^ a b c Resigned to take an elected seat in the United States Senate.
  13. ^ a b c d As lieutenant governor, filled unexpired term.
  14. ^ a b All sources state Boies was sworn in on February 27, 1890, with no explanation given for the delay.
  15. ^ a b Represented the Republican Party.
  16. ^ Amendment 11 to the Iowa constitution, passed in 1904, shifted the state's election cycle forward one year, such that terms would begin on odd years. This lengthened Cummins' second term to three years, 1904 to 1907.
  17. ^ a b Died in office.
  18. ^ a b c Represented the Democratic Party.
  19. ^ Ray was the first governor elected following a constitutional amendment that lenghtened terms to four years; his latter two terms were four years long.
  20. ^ Governor Branstad's first term expires January 9, 2015. He won re-election on November 4, 2014, and his second term expires on January 11, 2019.


  1. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 1
  2. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 9
  3. ^ IA Const. art III, § 16
  4. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 11
  5. ^ IA Const., art. IV, § 16
  6. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 7
  7. ^ Shambaugh, Benjamin F., ed. (1903). The Messages and Proclamations of the Governors of Iowa 1. Iowa City, Iowa: State Historical Society of Iowa. p. 208. 
  8. ^ Executive Journal of Iowa 1838-1841, Governor Robert Lucas. State Historical Society of Iowa. 1906. pp. 277–279. 
  9. ^ a b c Benjamin F. Gue (1903). Iowa biography. Century History Company. p. 52. 
  10. ^ 1846 Const. article V, § 2
  11. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 2
  12. ^ IA Const. amendment 32
  13. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 15
  14. ^ IA Const. amendment 42
  15. ^ a b IA Const. art. IV, § 3
  16. ^ IA Const. amendment 41
  17. ^ IA Const. art. IV, § 17
  18. ^ 1846 Const. art V, § 18
  19. ^ "No 41st Governor for Iowa?". The Gazette (Cedar Rapids). November 5, 2010. Retrieved November 8, 2014. 
  20. ^ Iowa Official Register - 1951-1952. p. 97. 

External links[edit]