Washington still operates under its first constitution, adopted in 1889. Its executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. The legislature has a senate with 49 members and a house of representatives with 98 members. The state sends 2 senators and 10 representatives to the U.S. Congress and has 12 electoral votes. Democrat Mike Lowry, elected governor in 1992, was succeeded by another Democrat, Gary Locke, elected in 1996 and reelected in 2000. Christine O. Gregoire, a Democrat, was narrowly elected to the office in 2004 after a hand recount. She had trailed after the first two vote counts, and the final count was challenged in court. Gregoire was reelected in 2008, and succeeded in 2012 by fellow Democrat Jay Inslee.
Among the state's institutions of higher learning are Central Washington Univ., at Ellensburg; Eastern Washington Univ., at Cheney; Evergreen State College, at Olympia; Gonzaga Univ., at Spokane; Pacific Lutheran Univ. and the Univ. of Puget Sound, at Tacoma; Seattle Univ. and the Univ. of Washington, at Seattle; Washington State Univ., at Pullman; Western Washington Univ., at Bellingham; and Whitman College, at Walla Walla.