A gubernatorial election is important because it determines the chief executive officer for the state. The chief executive, by appointing heads of various state agencies and boards and by working with the state legislature, determines the allocation of scarce public resources.
In most states, gubernatorial elections are held every four years. However, the governors of New Hampshire and Vermont are elected for two-year terms. During the primary election, candidates from various political parties, but primarily the Democratic and Republican parties, compete for the party's nomination. The candidates chosen to represent each party then compete in the general election. General elections are held in November.
In many ways, the governor of each state is similar to the president. Governors sign bills into law, veto bills, serve as commander-in-chief of the state's National Guard, deliver an annual state of the state address and, in some cases, appoint state judges. The governor also hosts dignitaries from other states and from foreign countries.
Governors are influential leaders in their respective parties, and many go on to play major roles in national politics. Governors who have been elected president include Jimmy Carter of Georgia, Ronald Reagan of California, Bill Clinton of Arkansas and George W. Bush of Texas.