The governor, secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, commissioner of agriculture, and attorney general make up the executive department of state government. These are the so-called constitutional officers, mandated by Article VII, Section I, of the West Virginia constitution.
An unusual feature of West Virginia state government is that all the executive officers are elected individually, and not appointed by the governor. Governor Gaston Caperton attempted unsuccessfully in 1989 to amend the constitution to make these offices appointed. His Better Government Amendment was defeated at the polls by a vote of 220,700 against and 28,634 for, one of the worst defeats of a proposed constitutional amendment in the history of the state.
All the constitutional officers are elected statewide to four-year terms, which begin on the first Monday after the second Wednesday of January following their election. A governor may serve any number of terms, but not more than two terms in succession. The remaining constitutional officers may succeed themselves as many times as they are elected. The governor could not serve consecutive terms prior to ratification of the Governor’s Succession Amendment in 1970. Republican Arch A. Moore Jr., of Marshall County in 1972 became the first governor to succeed himself under the amendment.
The governor must have attained the age of 30 and the attorney general the age of 25 at the beginning of their respective terms. The remaining constitutional officers must be of legal voting age, and all must meet residency requirements.
This Article was written by Karl C. Lilly III
Last Revised on June 15, 2012