Over the course of the last module and this one, we’ve spent some significant time talking about Texas’ plural executive. Texas has a number of executive officers who are elected separately, and have major responsibilities in running the state’s government. This arrangement that Texas has set up for this is far from unique: most states have set up similar structures in which officials share responsibilities between one another. Most states have at least an elected Attorney General (43 states), Secretary of State (37 states), and Treasurer (34 states). Some states, like New Jersey, have single executives, which means that all governing responsibility and accountability falls on one executive: the Governor, who appoints all members of his cabinet as well as heads of agencies.
Supporters of a plural executive fear that a single executive would lead to an all-powerful (too powerful!) governor. As you might remember from my lecture about the history of the Texas Constitution, that was definitely a concern that the drafters of the 1876 Constitution shared. They were trying to make sure that no governor would ever be as powerful again as Governor E.J. Davis. They also believed that a plural executive would bring the government of the state closer to the people, and make it easier for the people to hold the state government accountable.
In contrast to that, those who support a plural executive believe that a single executive will make a state government run more efficiently, because of the lack of individual electoral incentives and conflicting priorities between members of the executive branch. Additionally, that lack of electoral incentives makes it so that the state government can present a unified policy agenda, rather than one that is spread between different constituencies (see, for instance, a State Board of Education that is elected but using different districts than any other office in the state of Texas).