Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma

Last updated
Lieutenant Governor of
the State of Oklahoma
Seal of Oklahoma.svg
Great Seal of Oklahoma
Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma Matt Pinnell.jpg
Matt Pinnell

since January 14, 2019
Residence Oklahoma City
Term length Four years, unlimited number of terms
Inaugural holder George W. Bellamy
FormationNovember 16, 1907
Website Lieutenant Governor's Website
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The Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is the second-highest executive official of the state government of Oklahoma. As first in the gubernatorial line of succession, the lieutenant governor becomes the new governor of Oklahoma upon the death, resignation, or removal of the governor. The lieutenant governor also serves as the president of the Oklahoma Senate, and may cast a vote to break ties in that chamber.

Government of Oklahoma

The government of the U.S. State of Oklahoma, established by the Oklahoma Constitution, is a republican democracy modeled after the federal government of the United States. The state government has three branches: the executive, legislative, and judicial. Through a system of separation of powers or "checks and balances," each of these branches has some authority to act on its own, some authority to regulate the other two branches, and has some of its own authority, in turn, regulated by the other branches.

Governor of Oklahoma head of state and of government of the U.S. state of Oklahoma

The Governor of Oklahoma is the head of state for the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Under the Oklahoma Constitution, the governor is also the head of government, serving as the chief executive of the Oklahoma executive branch, of the government of Oklahoma. The governor is the ex officio Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard when not called into federal use. Despite being an executive branch official, the governor also holds legislative and judicial powers. The governor's responsibilities include making yearly "State of the State" addresses to the Oklahoma Legislature, submitting the annual state budget, ensuring that state laws are enforced, and that the peace is preserved. The governor's term is four years in length.

Oklahoma Senate upper state chamber of a state of the United-States of America

The Oklahoma Senate is the upper house of the two houses of the Legislature of Oklahoma, the other being the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The total number of senators is set at 48 by the Oklahoma Constitution.


The office of the lieutenant governor was created upon the adoption of the state constitution in 1907 and was preceded by a Secretary of Oklahoma Territory office. The 17th Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma is Republican Matt Pinnell. His first term began on January 14, 2019.

Matt Pinnell

Matt Pinnell is an American politician. He is the 17th lieutenant governor of Oklahoma, since 2019. Pinnell is also serving as the first and current Oklahoma Secretary of Tourism & Branding.


Although there was no lieutenant governor in Oklahoma Territory prior to the creation of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, a territorial secretary served as the immediate successor to the governorship of Oklahoma Territory if the position became vacant. Two territorial secretaries succeeded territorial governors. Secretary Robert Martin became acting governor of the territory after Governor George Washington Steele's resignation in 1890 and Secretary William C. Grimes served as acting governor of the territory in 1901. [1] [2]

Oklahoma Territory territory of the USA between 1890-1907

The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.

U.S. state constituent political entity of the United States

In the United States, a state is a constituent political entity, of which there are currently 50. Bound together in a political union, each state holds governmental jurisdiction over a separate and defined geographic territory and shares its sovereignty with the federal government. Due to this shared sovereignty, Americans are citizens both of the federal republic and of the state in which they reside. State citizenship and residency are flexible, and no government approval is required to move between states, except for persons restricted by certain types of court orders. Four states use the term commonwealth rather than state in their full official names.

Robert Martin (Oklahoma) Acting Governor of Oklahoma Territory

Robert Martin (1833–1897), a Republican lawyer and native of Pennsylvania who moved to Oklahoma Territory in 1889, served as Secretary (1890–1893) and Acting Governor of Oklahoma Territory.

When the Oklahoma Constitution was adopted in 1907, it authorized the office of the Oklahoma lieutenant governor. [3] The office, like that of other state lieutenant governors, was modeled after the office of the Vice President of the United States. The authors of the Oklahoma Constitution placed the lieutenant governor as the ex officio president of the Oklahoma Senate, giving the office limited legislative power that included a tie-breaking vote. [4] George W. Bellamy, a pharmacist, served as the first lieutenant governor. [5]

Vice President of the United States Second highest executive office in United States

The vice president of the United States is the second-highest officer in the executive branch of the U.S. federal government, after the president of the United States, and ranks first in the presidential line of succession. The vice president is also an officer in the legislative branch, as president of the Senate. In this capacity, the vice president presides over Senate deliberations, but may not vote except to cast a tie-breaking vote. The vice president also presides over joint sessions of Congress.

George W. Bellamy (1867–1920) was the first Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. He served from 1907 until 1911 alongside Oklahoma's first governor, Charles Haskell.

The Republican-dominated Oklahoma House of Representatives brought impeachment charges against Oklahoma's third lieutenant governor, but the Democratic-dominated Oklahoma Senate did not sustain the charges. [6] Lieutenant Governor Martin E. Trapp went on to succeed Governor Jack C. Walton, who was suspended on October 23, 1923, and convicted of impeachment charges and removed from office on November 19, 1923. [7]

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

Oklahoma House of Representatives lower house of U.S. state legislature

The Oklahoma House of Representatives is the lower house of the legislature of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Its members introduce and vote on bills and resolutions, provide legislative oversight for state agencies, and help to craft the state's budget. The upper house of the Oklahoma Legislature is the Oklahoma Senate.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

In 1929, impeachment charges were brought against the governor, leading to Lieutenant Governor William J. Holloway to become acting governor and later governor when the impeachment charges led to a conviction. [8]

Impeachment Formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity

Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. It does not mean removal from office; it is only a statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction by a legislative vote, which judgment entails removal from office.

William J. Holloway 8th Governor of Oklahoma

William Judson Holloway was an American principal, lawyer, and politician who served as the fourth Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. Following Henry S. Johnston’s impeachment and removal from office, Holloway became the eighth governor of Oklahoma.

George Nigh, Oklahoma's eighth lieutenant governor was the youngest lieutenant governor in the United States when he took office on January 12, 1959. [9]

Today, the lieutenant governor presides over the first day of the legislative session, has a tie-breaking vote, and serves as a chief aid to the governor.


The lieutenant governor is elected directly by the people of Oklahoma every four years on the same day as the election of the governor. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected on separate ballots and are not running mates. This presents a chance that they may represent different political parties, as was the case from 2003 to 2007 when Democratic Governor Brad Henry and Republican Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin were in office. The election of Democratic Lieutenant Governor Leo Winters and Republican Governor Henry Bellmon in the 1960s was the first instance of this occurrence. It also occurred in 1967 with Republican Governor Dewey F. Bartlett and Democratic Lieutenant Governor George Nigh and in 1987 with Republican Governor Henry Bellmon and Democratic Lieutenant Governor Robert S. Kerr III.

To hold the office, the lieutenant governor must satisfy the same constitutional qualifications as the governor. He or she must be a citizen of the U.S. state of Oklahoma, at least thirty-one years of age and a resident of the United States for ten years. [10]

The lieutenant governor's term lasts for four years and runs coequal with the term of the governor, beginning on the first Monday in January following their election. As originally written, the Oklahoma Constitution placed no limits on the number of terms an individual could serve as lieutenant governor. Following the results of the 2010 state elections, the state constitution was amended to limit the lieutenant governor to no more than two terms, consecutive or not.

Democratic Lieutenant Governor James E. Berry holds the record for the most terms served in the office, having served for five consecutive terms from 1935 to 1955. George Nigh also held the lieutenant governorship from 1959 to 1963 and again from 1967 to 1979, and Republican Mary Fallin held the lieutenant governorship for 12 years from 1995 to 2007 with strict lifetime term limits limiting statewide officeholders to two four-year terms, it's unlikely that anyone will surpass these records.

Oath of office

"I, . . . . . . . , do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma, and that I will not, knowingly, receive, directly or indirectly, any money or other valuable thing, for the performance or nonperformance of any act or duty pertaining to my office, other than the compensation allowed by law; I further swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully discharge my duties as Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma to the best of my ability."

Powers and duties

Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Seal of Oklahoma.svg
Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma
Agency overview
Preceding agency
Headquarters Oklahoma State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Employees16 unclassified
Annual budget$700,000
Minister responsible
Website Office of the Lieutenant Governor

The lieutenant governor is the ex officio president of the Oklahoma Senate. As state senate president, he or she oversees procedural matters and may cast a vote in the event of a tie. [4] The lieutenant governor also receives a vote during a joint-session of both the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate. By tradition, the lieutenant governor presides less frequently than the President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate.

Despite the lieutenant governor's legislative role, his or her main function lies in the executive branch as the immediate successor to the governorship in the event of a vacancy. [4] In case of impeachment of the governor, or of his or her death, failure to qualify, or resignation, the governorship, with its compensation and responsibilities, devolves upon the lieutenant governor for the remainder of the gubernatorial term. [11] In the event of the governor's absences from Oklahoma, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office, the lieutenant governor becomes the "acting governor" until the governor returns to the state or the disability is removed.

The lieutenant governor presides over or is a member of ten state boards and commissions as per state statute and the Oklahoma Constitution.

Tourism and Recreation Commission Chair
Film Office Advisory CommissionChair
Oklahoma State Board of Equalization Vice-Chair
School Land CommissionVice-Chair
Oklahoma Linked Deposit BoardVice-Chair
State Insurance FundMember
Archives and RecordsMember
Oklahoma Capitol Complex Centennial CommissionMember
Capital Improvement AuthorityMember
Native American Cultural & Education AuthorityMember

Relationship with governor

When a governor and lieutenant governor are of the same party, the governor often uses the lieutenant governor as the head of board, agency, or commission. This can be seen when Governor Frank Keating appointed Mary Fallin to serve as his Small Business Advocate within his Cabinet. However, when the governor and lieutenant governor are of different parties, the role of the lieutenant governor is minimal.

The lieutenant governor can serve as the acting governor. When acting as the governor, the Oklahoma Constitution provides the lieutenant governor with the full powers of the governor, including the power to sign or veto legislation, make political appointments, call out the Oklahoma National Guard, or grant pardons. The need for the lieutenant governor to act as the governor may come about due to the governor's absences from Oklahoma, or his or her inability to discharge the powers and duties of the office. The lieutenant governor holds the powers of the governor until the governor returns to the state or the period of disability ends.

List of lieutenant governors


   Democratic (14)   Republican (3)

#Lt. GovernorTermPartyGovernor(s) Served Under
1 George W. Bellamy 1907–1911 Democrat Charles N. Haskell
2 J. J. McAlester 1911–1915Democrat Lee Cruce
3 Martin E. Trapp 1915–1923Democrat Robert L. Williams
James B. A. Robertson
John C. Walton
vacant1923–1927 Martin E. Trapp
4 William J. Holloway 1927–1929Democrat Henry S. Johnston
vacant1929–1931 William J. Holloway
5 Robert Burns 1931–1935Democrat William H. Murray
6 James E. Berry 1935–1955Democrat E. W. Marland
Leon C. Phillips
Robert S. Kerr
Roy J. Turner
Johnston Murray
7 Cowboy Pink Williams 1955–1959 Democrat Raymond D. Gary
8 George Nigh 1959–1963Democrat J. Howard Edmondson
9 Leo Winters 1963–1967Democrat Henry Bellmon
10 George Nigh 1967–1979 Democrat Dewey F. Bartlett
David Hall
David L. Boren
11 Spencer Bernard 1979–1987Democrat George Nigh
12 Robert S. Kerr III 1987–1991 Democrat Henry Bellmon
13 Jack Mildren 1991–1995Democrat David Walters
14 Mary Fallin 1995–2007 Republican Frank Keating
Brad Henry
15 Jari Askins 2007–2011 Democrat Brad Henry
16 Todd Lamb 2011–2019 Republican Mary Fallin
17 Matt Pinnell 2019–present Republican Kevin Stitt

Living former Lieutenant Governors of Oklahoma

As of January 2019, five former lieutenant governors of Oklahoma were alive, the oldest being George Nigh (served 1959–1963 and 1967–1979, born 1927). The most recent death of a former lieutenant governor of Oklahoma was that of Jack Mildren (served 1991–1995, born 1949), on May 22, 2008.

Lt. GovernorLt. Gubernatorial termDate of birth (and age)
George Nigh 1959–1963
June 9, 1927 (age 91)
Robert S. Kerr III 1987–1991October 2, 1952 (age 65)
Mary Fallin 1995–2007December 9, 1954 (age 64)
Jari Askins 2007–2011April 27, 1953 (age 66)
Todd Lamb 2011–2019October 19, 1971 (age 47)

Related Research Articles

Henry S. Johnston American politician

Henry Simpson Johnston was an American lawyer and politician who served as a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention, the first President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate, and the seventh governor of Oklahoma. He would become the second governor in Oklahoma history to be impeached and removed from office.

Henry Bellmon American politician

Henry Louis Bellmon was an American Republican politician from the U.S. state of Oklahoma. A member of the Oklahoma Legislature, he went on to become both the 18th and 23rd Governor of Oklahoma, mainly in the 1960s and again in the 1980s, as well as a two-term United States Senator in the 1970s. He was the first Republican to serve as Governor of Oklahoma and, after his direct predecessor George Nigh, only the second Governor to be reelected.

George Nigh American politician

George Patterson Nigh is an American politician and civic leader from the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Nigh served as the 17th and the 22nd Governor of Oklahoma and as the 8th and 10th Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma. He was the first Oklahoma governor to be re-elected and the first to win all 77 counties in the state. Additionally, short term vacancies in the governor's office twice resulted in Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma Nigh assuming gubernatorial duties while serving as lieutenant governor.

Martin E. Trapp American politician

Martin Edwin Trapp was an American state auditor, governor and lieutenant governor of the U.S. state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma's third lieutenant governor, he was the first to become governor not through an election but instead due to the previous governor's impeachment and removal from office.

The Oklahoma Republican Party is a political party affiliated with the United States Republican Party (GOP). Along with the Oklahoma Democratic Party, it is one of the two major parties in Oklahoma politics.

President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate

The President pro tempore of the Oklahoma Senate is the second-highest-ranking official of the Oklahoma Senate and the highest-ranking state senator. The Oklahoma Constitution designates the Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma as the highest-ranking official, serving ex officio as President of the Senate, even though he or she only votes in the case of a tie. During the lieutenant governor's absence, the president pro tempore presides over sessions. The lieutenant governor presides over sessions devoted to ceremonial purposes, while the bulk of the management and political power is reserved for the president pro tempore.

Lieutenant Governor of Indiana position

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  1. "Robert Martin". Find A Grave. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  2. "Governors Of Oklahoma". Rootsweb. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  3. Article VI, Section 1, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  4. 1 2 3 Article VI, Section 15, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  5. George W. Bellamy at Find a Grave . (accessed October 3, 2013)
  6. O'Dell, Larry. "Robertson, James Brooks Ayers (1871-1938) Archived 2013-10-05 at the Wayback Machine ," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  7. O'Dell, Larry. "WALTON, JOHN CALLOWAY (1881-1949)," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  8. "JOHNSTON, HENRY SIMPSON Archived 2013-07-05 at WebCite ," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  9. George Nigh CareerTech Hall of Fame Bio (accessed October 3, 2013)
  10. Article VI, Section 3, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  11. Article VI, Section 16, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)