Naturally, the various politicians from a State have some interaction with one another for the sake of furthering their State's interests. They probably coordinate even more commonly if they are from the same political party. However, as far as I'm aware, no Governor has the (official) ability to dictate voting behavior or other actions to their Congresspeople. Probably for good reason.

Still, there are some instances where the Governor of a State has some authority over the offices of Congressional legislators. For example, most US States give their Governor the power to appoint someone to fill a vacated Senate seat. Are there other instances where the Governor interacts with a State's Congresspeople in an official capacity, or has some authority over them (or vice versa)?

For the sake of this question, I'm not interested in interactions that occur purely by virtue of party affiliation (such as appearances at campaign rallies or strategy meetings) or for posterity (photo-ops, State Fairs, etc.).

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    Did you link the wrong congressional report? According to CTRL+F, the one you provided doesn't mention any of those three states. Further, Amendment XVII states that the only legal way to name interim senators is appointment by the state's governor, pursuant to legislation enacted by the state legislature. It's possible those 3 states never enacted such legislation, but that would just make it impossible for them to appoint interim senators. Since senators have been appointed for Alaska & Oregon, I'm not sure that could be true.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 4:49
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    OK, at least in Alaska, the right was recently stripped by a public referendum after a particularly obnoxious instance of nepotism: a new governor named his daughter to the Senate seat he was vacating. It seems like the new rules should be unconstitutional, but maybe it hasn't been challenged yet or maybe it's just worded in such a way that the governor is legally obliged to approve whoever fulfills the new appointment criteria.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 4:56
  • @lly Maybe? That was the source given by the wikipedia page I looked at, but I suppose it could have been for another fact in that sentence. It's not essential information anyhow, just a (perhaps now inaccurate) fact I thought was neat, so I'll edit the question.
    – Texas Red
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 17:08
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    Oregon's governor does not currently have the power to appoint senators. After Bob Packwood resigned from the U.S. Senate in 1995, the seat remained vacant until after a special election. This page from the National Conference of State Legislatures gives an overview of different states' laws regarding senate vacancies: ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/…
    – PersonX
    Commented Jun 22, 2018 at 14:53

1 Answer 1


Members of Congress don't have to take instruction from their governors and might take umbrage at the suggestion they should; all the same, a governor is an important person whose decisions affect their constituents and their access to local cash.

Governors are usually going to be the heads of their party within their states. From their own followers, visibility, control of state patronage, and personal relationships, they can influence the nomination of candidates, the existence or threat of primary challengers, official support and funding, and fundraising opportunities.

After a census, governors also usually have a role—even if only using or withholding their veto—in the gerrymandering which creates their states' congressional districts. The lines thus established determine the location of representatives' residency and the nature of their constituencies. (Edit: Congressional redistricting is specially not subject to gubernatorial veto in Connecticut and North Carolina; Cali. and Arizona use an independent commission for redistricting; 7 states are so small they have only one district.)

Historically, the governors were much more powerful w/r/t senators, since they were appointed by the state legislatures until the 17th Amendment in 1913. The same amendment is responsible for the governors' current role in appointing interim replacement senators.

TL;DR: Ex officio, not much any more; de facto, rather a lot.

An important caveat about most governors' ability to name interim senators & representatives is that some states require the governor to name someone of the same party as the former legislator.

  • Interesting, I did not know that some states required an appointment of a senator from the same party as the previous senator. I suppose that does make some sense.
    – Texas Red
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 17:14
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    @TexasRed Mostly from a game theoretic perspective. Such laws have been enacted less as broad measures of electoral fairness and much more based on naked political calculation by whoever's running the state legislature. Alaska nixed its party requirement law so it could appoint Ted Stevens (R) to a Dem seat, then reestablished it when Murkowski (R) resigned to become governor. I'd imagine similar things went on elsewhere.
    – lly
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 17:41
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    Good to amend with an example of how a congressional delegation and the governor can come together on a policy position. Otherwise a good answer.
    – user9790
    Commented Jun 21, 2018 at 18:32

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