Kris Seago
Government/Political Science
Material Type:
Full Course
Academic Lower Division
Austin Community College
  • ACC Liberal Arts
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Media Formats:

    The Informal Powers of the Executive Branch


    The Informal Powers of the Executive Branch

    Learning Objective

    By the end of this section, you will be able to:

    • Discuss the informal powers of the executive branch


    A Governor's powers are not limited to their constitutional and statutory authority. This section discusses a Governor's informal powers.

    The Informal Powers of the Executive Branch

    In addition to the formal powers of the governor and other executive branch officials, a smart governor can accomplish a lot using informal powers. Governor George W. Bush was legendary for his ability to forge genuine friendships with other state officials – notably House Speaker Pete Laney and Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock. The three had breakfast at the Governor’s Mansion weekly during legislative sessions. When he announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for President in 1999, Speaker Laney, a Democrat, introduced him. Friendly late night meetings over a beer or two helped Governor Bush and some of his staunchest political opponents find common ground on a variety of policy issues.

    The Texas Governor has the highest-profile role of any state official and can use that to his advantage. An endorsement from a governor can mean a lot in a race for the state house or senate, and a grateful legislator should be eager to return the favor. Conversely, Governor Greg Abbott actively worked against the reelection of two legislators from his own party in 2018 – helping to defeat one.

    The governor's appointment power to appoint members to boards, commissions, councils, and committees can provide the governor with significant informal power over policy in many key areas. The executive branch of the Texas government is made up of over 400 state boards, commissions, and agencies. Finally, the governor’s unilateral post-session veto power creates a lot of informal leverage during the legislative session. A legislative bill author asked by the governor to support a change to his bill – even a drastic one – has little alternative, knowing the bill can be vetoed with no opportunity for an override vote.

    Licensing and Attribution


    The Informal Powers of the Executive Branch. Authored by: Andrew Teas. License: CC BY: Attribution