36 states have term limits on their governors imposed at the founding of their respective state constitutions. Term limits on governors are a common and effective check and balance in statewide governance. Historically, in the 34 states with term limits, every gubernatorial election has been contested.
Vermont and New Hampshire do not impose term limits on their governor, however, they are the only states where the terms are just two years as opposed to the four year terms typical of most other states. The most common limit is two-consecutive, four year terms. The only state with a one-term lifetime limit is Virginia.
Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad holds the record for longest “serving” governor in U.S. history with a combined 24 years (six, four-year terms) in office.
Gubernatorial Term Limits
|Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia||2 consecutive 4-year terms|
|Indiana, Wyoming, Oregon||2 consecutive 4-year terms, 1 term pause|
|Montana||2 consecutive 4-year terms, 2 term pause|
|Arkansas, California, Delaware, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma||2 four-year terms a lifetime|
|Virginia||1 four-year term|
|Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin||no term limits (NH and VT have unlimited 2 year terms, the remainder have unlimited 4 year terms)|