This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

State Government and Responsible Party Successsion




Gulley, Dwight

Type of Degree



Political Science


The ability of a state to maintain administrative efficacy and party consistency in the executive branch when a governor leaves office early is sometimes difficult. These difficulties can, at times, be directly related to its line of succession and those in it. Using a mixed methods design, this study examines gubernatorial succession events in states and attempts to create a smooth succession model. Called ‘responsible party succession,’ it uses historical discussion of responsible party government as a template. Responsible party government’s theories extrapolated to the executive branch of state government demonstrates the need for states to assure basic democratic continuity in the executive branch through ‘responsible party succession.’ Responsible party succession would allow governors to have full appointment power over executive branch/cabinet-level offices. Succession lines would be limited to these officers and candidates for governor would run as a ticket in a general election. Quantitative analysis of both institutional and environmental factors surrounding succession finds a significant relationship between problematic succession events and whether a state has a lieutenant governor, and that a state’s election model is also a significant factor in smooth succession. Qualitatively, the study shows succession events can be challenging due to environmental factors surrounding a succession event that were not significant in quantitative analysis. Based on the results, a responsible party succession model (RPS) is developed by using qualitative and quantitative results to forge its design.