The closest you may ever come to thinking of the morbid concept of continuity of government comes each year during the national State of the Union when one high ranking official is kept safely away from the Capitol should calamity strike. The Designated Survivor would remain to lead the country.

Famously this was the premise of a popular TV series starring Kiefer Southerland.

Continuity of Government (COG), while very rarely spoken of publically, is taken very seriously by all levels of government - how to ensure functionality and at its core maintaining the ominous sounding Enduring Constitutional Governance.

Michigan is no different than the federal government when it comes to COG. Like a succession plan for the national presidency, the state has an order of succession for the Michigan governorship. The national plan you likely know at least the top level - Vice President - next, the Speaker of the House of Representatives - then President Pro Tem of the Senate - then Cabinet Secretaries in the order of the establishment of the department.

Michigan COG
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Michigan has an oddball line of succession that is unlike any other in the union. While it starts out normal at the top: Lieutenant Governor - Secretary of State - Attorney General then the leaders of the state Senate and House, it takes a turn for the bizarre from there.

READ MORE: Michigan Leads the Nation in the Oddest Category - Longest State Motto

During the early, hot years of the Cold War, Michigan established a law calling for Emergency Interim Successors should the top 5 elected successors to the governorship be unable to serve. The 1959 Emergency Interim Executive Succession Act allows for each governor to select 5 people of their choosing who would act as governor.

That means should a true decapitation event happen (a phrase used in COG parlance that means exactly what it sounds like: an enemy strike that takes out all the heads of government at one time), a list of unelected people would be in line to be Michigan's governor.

These Emergency Successors are appointed at the beginning of each governor's term and do not need any vetting or approval by the state's legislature.

For Governor Gretchen Whitmer, she selected the state's treasurer Rachel Eubanks, former Lt Governor John Cherry, Wayne County Exec Warren Evans, businessman Gary Torgow and outgoing US Senator Debbie Stabenow to serve as emergency governor in that order.


Many of those are certainly not household names around the state. But they are legally in line to be your governor.

Previous governor Rick Snyder has as his backups: former Lt Governor Dick Postumus, followed by, in order, the director of the Michigan State Police, the state's treasurer, the director of the Department of Natural Resources and the state's director of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Only California has a system similar to Michigan's where after the standard line of government officials in the line of succession, the state's governor gets to appoint successors - however in California, the governor's appointments are subject to confirmation by that state's senate.

The next time a new governor is sworn in, dig around and you'll find a press release that won't be picked up by many, if any, news outlets that list some random names who are legally in line to become governor of Michigan following doomsday.

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