Although the 1776 Constitution created a weak executive, in line with most other revolutionary state constitutions, each of the subsequent Virginia constitutions has taken important steps toward empowering the executive.
First, at a fundamental level, steps have been taken to render the Governor independent of the General Assembly and the now defunct Council of State. Originally, the Governor was selected by the General Assembly and shared the executive power with a Council of State, whose members were also selected by the General Assembly. The 1851 Constitution was the first to provide for popular election of the Governor, and it also eliminated the council, which had already been reduced to an advisory role in the 1830 Constitution.
Second, efforts have been made to permit the Governor to appoint various officials within the executive branch. The Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General were made elective by the people in the 1851 Constitution; however, the appointment of various other executive officials, after some experimentation with popular election for several offices, was eventually vested in the Governor, in a process that was completed with the adoption of the Short Ballot measures as part of the 1928 Constitutional revision.
Third, the Governor has gained additional powers other than the power to pardon and to direct the militia, which were the principal executive powers in the 1776 Constitution. Thus the 1830 Constitution gave the Governor the power to recommend legislation to the General Assembly. The 1851 Constitution empowered the Governor to require information in writing from other executive officials. The Governor then gained the veto power in the 1870 Constitution, as well as the item veto and amendatory veto in the 1902 Constitution.
Finally, although the Governor still may not succeed himself (a provision that is now unique to Virginia and a topic of continuing debate and controversy), his term
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Publication information: Book title: The Virginia State Constitution: A Reference Guide. Contributors: John Dinan - Author. Publisher: Praeger. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2006. Page number: 116.
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