What is a governor?

The chief of the executive branch is the governor. The governor’s office is located in the State House in Trenton. The governor signs bills into law or vetoes them. He or she can also recommend laws and call the legislature into special session. The governor has the power to grant pardons and is the only person with the authority to call in the National Guard.

Where is the governor’s official residence?

The governor’s official residence is a mansion called Drumthwacket, which is located in Princeton. The governor may use the mansion for meetings, ceremonies, and other sorts of business.

What is a typical day like for the governor?

Throughout a typical day for the governor, he or she meets with citizens, legislators, and members of his or her staff. The governor often starts the day with a breakfast at Drumthwacket with a group of New Jerseyans such as veterans, teachers, or volunteers. During the day, the governor usually holds a public event, such as a bill signing or a speech.

What are the requirements for being governor and how long can a governor serve for?

The governor may serve any number of terms, but he or she cannot serve more than two terms in a row. To become governor, a person must be

  • at least 30 years old,
  • a U.S. citizen for at least 20 years, and
  • a New Jersey resident for seven years prior to the election.

Who helps the governor?

Supporting the governor is his or her staff. The governor’s staff deals with the media and makes his or her schedule. Certain staff members may also write speeches or do research to help the governor make policy decisions. Staff also informs the heads of different departments and legislative leaders about the governor’s agenda.

In addition to the Governor’s Office, there are 16 executive departments and many boards and commissions. Most executive officials serve four-year terms. The executive departments carry out the policies set by the governor. The officials who lead these agencies are appointed by the governor and approved by the state Senate. Officials appointed by the governor include the following:

  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of State
  • State Treasurer
  • Commissioners of the Departments of Agriculture, Banking and Insurance, Commerce, Community Affairs, Corrections, Education, Environmental Protection, Health and Senior Services, Human Services, Labor, Military and Veterans Affairs, Personnel, and Transportation
  • Judges (including the State Supreme Court)
  • County Prosecutors
  • County Boards of Election and Taxation
  • Members of Boards and Commissions


The office of state governor is one of the very few constants in American politics. Each of the fifty states has a governor, but from state to state the offices have differing histories, and they vary widely in structure and range of powers. New Jersey has had a governor since the English conquest in 1664. Overall, the governors have reflected the Garden State, although only one was a farmer. Most have been lawyers, but there have also been entrepreneurs and doctors, among other professions. They have come from every part of New Jersey, and generally they served in elective office, often in the state legislature, before becoming governor. There have been twenty-four Democrats and four Democratic (or Jeffersonian)-Republicans; as well as fifteen Republicans, four Whigs, and four Federalists.

For much of its first thirty-eight years New Jersey was split into two colonies—East Jersey and West Jersey. In both, official power belonged to Proprietors. They appointed governors who were expected to increase the value of the Proprietors’ property but who also tried to solidify their own power. As time passed settlers began to defend self-government in defiance of gubernatorial authority. In the late seventeenth century, near anarchy prevailed.

In 1702, the Proprietors surrendered sovereignty to the Crown in return for a promise to protect their investments. The two proprietary colonies were united under one royal governor chosen directly by the Crown. Until 1738, New Jersey shared its governor with its more powerful neighbor—New York— which generally received more attention than New Jersey from the appointee. While formally royal governors had almost total authority, their actual positions were unenviable. Governors had the power to convene and adjourn the legislature, veto legislation, call elections, and control the appointments of many officials. But the assembly initiated all legislation and controlled the purse strings—including the governor’s pay. During the first half of the eighteenth century the system worked well enough, despite a number of occasionally violent protests over disputed land titles. Toward the end of the century, tensions developed as the interests of the Crown and those of the colony began to diverge. The governor had to span an ever-widening, and ultimately unbridgeable, gulf.