Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma

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.

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
ResidenceOklahoma City
Term lengthFour years, limited to two terms
Inaugural holderGeorge W. Bellamy
FormationNovember 16, 1907
WebsiteLieutenant Governor's Website

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.


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]

When the Oklahoma Constitution was adopted in 1907, it authorized the office of the Oklahoma lieutenant governor.[2] 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.[3] George W. Bellamy, a pharmacist, served as the first lieutenant governor.

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.[4] 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.[5]

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.[6]

George Nigh, Oklahoma's eighth lieutenant governor was the youngest lieutenant governor in the United States when he took office on January 12, 1959 at the age of 31.[7]

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. The lieutenant governor 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.[8]

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 barring a change in the state constitution.

Oath of officeEdit

"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 dutiesEdit

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

The lieutenant governor is the ex officio president of the Oklahoma Senate. As state senate president, the lieutenant governor oversees procedural matters and may cast a vote in the event of a tie.[3] 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.[3] In case of impeachment of the governor, 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.[9] 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.

Commission Position
Tourism and Recreation Commission Chair
Film Office Advisory Commission Chair
Oklahoma State Board of Equalization Vice-Chair
School Land Commission Vice-Chair
Oklahoma Linked Deposit Board Vice-Chair
State Insurance Fund Member
Archives and Records Member
Oklahoma Capitol Complex Centennial Commission Member
Capital Improvement Authority Member
Native American Cultural & Education Authority Member

Relationship with governorEdit

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 governorsEdit


  Democratic (14)   Republican (3)

# Lt. Governor Term Party Governor(s) served under
1 George W. Bellamy 1907–1911 Democrat Charles N. Haskell
2 J. J. McAlester 1911–1915 Democrat Lee Cruce
3 Martin E. Trapp 1915–1923 Democrat Robert L. Williams
James B. A. Robertson
John C. Walton
vacant 1923–1927 Martin E. Trapp
4 William J. Holloway 1927–1929 Democrat Henry S. Johnston
vacant 1929–1931 William J. Holloway
5 Robert Burns 1931–1935 Democrat William H. Murray
6 James E. Berry 1935–1955 Democrat 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 1959–1963 Democrat J. Howard Edmondson
9 Leo Winters 1963–1967 Democrat Henry Bellmon
10 George Nigh 1967–1979 Democrat Dewey F. Bartlett
David Hall
David L. Boren
11 Spencer Bernard 1979–1987 Democrat George Nigh
12 Robert S. Kerr III 1987–1991 Democrat Henry Bellmon
13 Jack Mildren 1991–1995 Democrat 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 governorsEdit

As of October 2022, there are five former lieutenant governors of Oklahoma, the oldest being George Nigh (served 1959–1963 and 1967–1979, born 1927). The most recent and most recently serving lieutenant governor of Oklahoma was that of Jack Mildren (served 1991–1995, born 1949), on May 22, 2008.

Lt. Governor Lt. gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
George Nigh 1959–1963
(1927-06-09) June 9, 1927 (age 95)
Robert S. Kerr III 1987–1991 (1952-10-02) October 2, 1952 (age 70)
Mary Fallin 1995–2007 (1954-12-09) December 9, 1954 (age 67)
Jari Askins 2007–2011 (1953-04-27) April 27, 1953 (age 69)
Todd Lamb 2011–2019 (1971-10-19) October 19, 1971 (age 51)


  1. ^ "Governors Of Oklahoma". Rootsweb. Retrieved October 3, 2013.
  2. ^ Article VI, Section 1, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  3. ^ a b c Article VI, Section 15, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ O'Dell, Larry. "Walton, John Calloway (1881-1949) Archived 2014-12-16 at the Wayback Machine," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  6. ^ "Johnston, Henry Simpson Archived 2013-10-05 at the Wayback Machine," Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  7. ^ George Nigh CareerTech Hall of Fame Bio (accessed October 3, 2013)
  8. ^ Article VI, Section 3, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)
  9. ^ Article VI, Section 16, Oklahoma Constitution. (accessed October 3, 2013)

External linksEdit