Difference Between Governor and Senator

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Governor and Senator

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You've probably heard the terms governor and Senator thrown around, but do you know the difference between them? A senator and a governor have similar responsibilities, but they hold different positions of power within the United States government. The following blog post will define the key differences between these two positions.

Governors vs. Senators

Many Americans know what senators do, but governors can be more of a mystery. It may seem like governors have fewer responsibilities than senators. But in reality, that's not true. Governors have many essential duties, including setting policy for state departments, preparing an annual budget request to present to their legislature, appointing directors for executive-branch departments and boards, and serving as commander-in-chief of their state's military forces in times of war or invasion (even if those forces are small), managing natural disasters when they occur within their state borders (such as fires or floods), commuting sentences of death row inmates when they are ready to take office (the Governor has power over pardon decisions after taking office), etc.

Difference Between Governor and Senator in Tabular Form

Parameters of Comparison Governor Senators
Meaning The title lead representative alludes to the CEO of each state or isolated region, the political and stylized top of the state. A Senator is an individual from the Senate. The United States Senate is an authoritative chamber in the bicameral council of the United States of America, and along with the U.S. Place of Representatives makes up the U.S. Congress.
Duties and Responsibilities These include governing the executive branch of the government. The senator proposes new laws. They are the representatives of the state.
Powers A governor has similar powers to the President but only at the state level A senator does not have similar power to the President.
Leader State Legislature The United States Congress
Total numbers in the US Government 50 Governors – 1 for each state 100 Senators – 2 from each state.
Term Duration Usually 4 years, but can be 2 years as well (as in New Hampshire and Vermont) 6 years

What is exactly a Governor?

A governor is an elected state official in charge of a U.S. state's executive branch and serves as commander-in-chief of its military forces. They can veto any legislation passed by their state legislature and make sure all bills are enforced.

The Governor can also sign or reject appropriation bills, which determine how much money each state department receives for operating expenses each year. But perhaps most importantly, governors appoint members to hundreds of positions within their states' executive branch, including judges, boards of education, and agencies that oversee environmental protection and public safety.

What are precisely Senators?  

U.S. senators are better known as representatives in Congress, where their states elect them to serve as official liaisons between constituents and state officials. Although they're typically called senators, they represent single states rather than entire countries (like your state governor).

Before a senator can assume office, they must be at least 30 years old, have been a citizen of their state for at least nine years, and live in that state when elected to office. In most cases, senators continue serving until they turn 75 or die in office. They are being the U.S.  Senators are appointed for a duration of 6 years.

Governors Can Have Higher Tenure Than Senators

If you're interested in politics, you've likely wondered what powers a governor has compared to a senator. One of the main differences between governors and senators is that senators have shorter tenures: Six years for each Senator than four for each Governor.

That means that if there are higher-level political positions available when your term as Governor ends, you might run for one of those positions—unlike your senator counterpart. (Note: It depends on your state; some states give governors longer tenures than others.) Plus, governors don't need to worry about campaigning every six years; they've already been voted into office!

Governors Are Elected by Popular Vote

Although they have different titles, governors are elected officials. The U.S. Constitution gives states authority to elect executive branch officials, and every state decides how its Governor is chosen. Governors can serve for four-year terms in all but two forms; some can also run for reelection once without term limits.

In Vermont and New Hampshire, governors choose their running mates during party primaries or caucuses; in Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, Virginia, and Oregon, voters select running mates along with candidates during primaries or caucuses—then those pairs run together on one ticket in November's general election.

Governors Head State Government While Senators Advise Federal Government

Let's be clear: A governor is not a senator. The two are very different in what they do, their powers, their energy, and more. In short, governors head state government while senators advise the federal government. Keeping all of these details straight can get confusing because there is overlap between state-level executive officers like governors (in every state but Nebraska) with federal-level executive officers like the U.S.

Many Senators are Considered More Influential Than Most Governors

Because their state's entire population elects Senators, they can get more done in Washington than governors can. Governors are only accountable to a few hundred thousand voters at home, so they're limited in what they can promise.

For example, a governor would be reluctant to approve millions of dollars in renewable energy projects since that could hurt them if there's an oil spill later. But because senators represent entire states, they're more likely to vote for policies that will help them if there's an emergency. The exception is term limits: when Senators are forced out of office every six years, it means new ones have more leverage to get things done.

Term Lengths Differ Depending on Each State's Constitution

In states that allow governors to run for two terms, eight years or 16 years are common. In other states, governors can only serve for 4 or 6 years, following which they must sit out one term before running again. The same holds for U.S. senators; in some states, senators can only serve two consecutive terms before giving up their seat (this is called being term-limited).

However, no federal rules restrict how many absolute terms any elected official can serve across different positions, so it's possible (though rare) for someone to be Governor and Senator at other times—they can't hold both offices simultaneously.

Main Difference Between Governors and Senators in Points

  • Governors serve four years in office while senators serve six-year terms.
  • To be elected as Senator, you must be 30 years old before assuming your role. To become Governor of your state, you must first get elected into your state's Senate for three consecutive years. Then after that time has passed, you must wait one year before trying for election again as Governor.
  • Governors are elected by states, while senators are elected.
  • Both of them have different duties and responsibilities.
  • Each state can choose two U.S. senators to represent their interests in Washington, D.C


The critical difference between governors and senators is not their positions within the government. The roles of both governors and senators are essential, but each brings different powers to their job. Governors are responsible for running state governments, while senators represent states in Congress. If you're interested in politics, either one of these positions could be an excellent career path!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the duties of a Governor?

A governor is elected by popular vote to oversee a state's executive branch. This entails overseeing law enforcement, managing state funds, responding to federal requests for aid, serving as commander-in-chief of local National Guard units, and ensuring that bills passed by legislatures are appropriately implemented.

A governor can veto any bill passed by a legislature but may be overridden depending on circumstances in some states. Governors are limited to two consecutive terms in many states. However, an initial term can lead to multiple re elections after an intervening term as lieutenant governor or another suitable position with less responsibility.

What are the duties of a senator?

A senator is a member of Congress, elected by voters in their state. The Senate has 100 members—two from each state. A senator must be at least 30 years old to be elected, have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and live in their home state when elected.

Senators serve six-year terms that are staggered so that approximately one-third of them will be up for election every two years. The House of Representatives approves all federal legislation before it goes to President; if it isn't approved by both houses (in which case they will go to a vote), it doesn't become law.

Powers and functions of a governor

The primary responsibility of a governor is to act as head of state. Governors are tasked with carrying out specific constitutional duties, such as appointing cabinet officials, approving or vetoing bills passed by legislatures, awarding state grants, making pardons, and acting as commander-in-chief of their states' National Guard units.

They also lead various state boards, councils, and commissions that oversee agencies focused on public transportation or child protection. The specific responsibilities given to governors depend on their state constitutions. In most cases, their power is checked by another elected official: The lieutenant governor serves in many states but only casts tie-breaking votes in some instances.

Powers and functions of a Senator

United States Senators represent their state in Congress. They serve six-year terms, except when appointed to fill interim vacancies. The Senate has 100 members, two from each of 50 states. A senator is elected by popular vote to a term of six years. As with other representatives, senators get paid for their work; annually, $174,000 (2017). Senators must be at least 30 years old and have been in the U.S.

What is the Governor's salary?

The Governor of every state makes a salary set by state law. In most states, that salary is about approx. $122,000. A governor also has access to other fringe benefits like housing or travel allowances if he chooses to live outside of his official gubernatorial residence.

As with all executive branch positions, governors have access to retirement benefits if they choose to participate. It's not uncommon for governors from small states who have only held one term or are not planning on seeking re election again (or both) to take their retirement benefits. However, in larger states, it's more common for governors to make their way back into politics and run for another office after serving as Governor.

What is the Senator's salary?

Senators are paid $174,000 per year; their salaries have not been raised since 2009. As with governors, senators' wages are set by Congress. In addition to their salary, senators can earn more than $6,000 for every week they work in Washington D.C. and another $50,000 for an overnight trip if they don't return home. These extra funds come from a member of Congress' office budget, separate from a senator's general pay check.

Where does the Governor live?

Governors typically reside in or near their state's capital city. Often, they live in homes that have been provided to them by their shape; although some choose to rent a private residence. Traditionally, governors are prohibited from using any part of their salary as payment for renting their official home.

Where does the Senator live?

Living arrangements are a significant difference between senators and governors. As part of their jobs, they have to live in Washington, D.C., to attend Senate sessions. Governors don't necessarily have to live in their home state's capital city; only 12 do currently. The other 40 governors have different residences across America's 50 states (or territories). This has been an issue of contention because many lawmakers feel that living in Washington makes it harder for governors to be influential leaders.



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"Difference Between Governor and Senator." Diffzy.com, 2023. Tue. 19 Sep. 2023. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-governor-and-senator-382>.

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