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California State Assembly. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for California Globe)

What Is the Order of Precedence When a Vacancy Occurs in the Office of the Governor?

This is the same order of precedence in case of impeachment of the Governor

By Chris Micheli, December 27, 2021 3:30 pm

In California’s Constitution, Article V, Section 10, the Lieutenant Governor becomes Governor when a vacancy occurs in the office of the Governor. In addition, the Lt. Governor acts as the Governor in these specified instances:

  • Impeachment
  • Absence from the State
  • Other temporary disability of the Governor

Section 10 also requires the Legislature to provide an “order of precedence” after the Lt. Governor for succession to the office of the Governor and for temporarily exercising the Governor’s functions. The Legislature completed that task in 1966 in Government Code Title 2 (Government of the State of California), Division 3 (Executive Department), Part 2 (Constitutional Officers), Chapter 1 (Governor), Article 5.5 (Succession to the Office of the Governor).

Article 5.5 contains Section 12058 – 12059. Government Code Section 12058 provides the following succession to the office of the Governor when there is a vacancy in both the Governor’s office and the Lieutenant Governor’s office:

  • The last duly elected President pro Tempore of the Senate shall become Governor for the residue of the term; or if there be no President pro Tempore of the Senate
  • The last duly elected Speaker of the Assembly; or if there be none
  • The Secretary of State; or if there be none
  • The Attorney General; or if there be none
  • The Treasurer; or if there be none
  • The Controller; or if there be none
  • The Superintendent of Public Instruction; or if there be none
  • The Insurance Commissioner; or if there be none
  • The Chair of the Board of Equalization

This is the same order of precedence in case of impeachment of the Governor, his or her absence from the state, or his or her other temporary disability. Section 12059 sets forth the order of precedence for those cases in which there is a death, disability, or other failure to take office for those who were elected, but who have not yet been sworn into office.

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4 thoughts on “What Is the Order of Precedence When a Vacancy Occurs in the Office of the Governor?

  1. The headline gave me the best adrenaline rush I’ve had in a while but by the end I was ready again to put gun to head though I’m now not sure who’s head.

  2. Did you have a premonition, inside information we haven’t been privy to, or just reading our minds?
    Looking at alternatives down the list, we’re screwed, unless your firm can lobby for Kevin Kiley.

  3. “…when a vacancy occurs…” Man, I LOVE that wording. A vacancy occurs. Hahahahaha!!! My descending colon experiences an evacuation. This is fun. May a vacancy occur in the office of the CA governor ASAP.

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