Arizona voters overwhelmingly rejected two previous ballot measures to create a lieutenant governor position. But Republicans just won’t take no for an answer.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The GOP-led Arizona House approved a third attempt for a ballot measure to create a lieutenant governor position. House OKs sending lieutenant governor proposal to Arizona voters:
Arizonans may get to decide if they want to elect the state’s chief executive the same way they elect the president: with a built-in replacement.
House Concurrent Resolution 2020 would set up a system where each party’s gubernatorial candidate would choose a running mate. The pair would run as a ticket and, if elected, the running mate would become the lieutenant governor.
We already have a weak governor system with a governor who does little or next to nothing. What is this lieutenant governor supposed to do, besides collect a paycheck for waiting around for the governor to die? (see below).
The measure gained preliminary approval in the state House on Wednesday. It still needs a final roll-call vote and Senate OK before being placed on the November ballot, where voters would get the final say.
Rep. Becky Nutt, R-Clifton, said the biggest effect would be to scrap the system where the death, recall, resignation or impeachment conviction of a governor elevates the secretary of state to the chief executive.
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Voters rejected the lieutenant governor idea in 1994 and again in 2010.
Some of the opposition in prior efforts was to creating another taxpayer-funded position for someone whose only official job would be to step in if necessary.
By contrast, Nutt’s proposal spells out that the lieutenant governor also would serve as director of the state Department of Administration. That agency is in charge of personnel matters and ensuring that buildings are maintained, among other roles.
So we’re supposed to turn an administrative position into an elected office? Sounds like make work to justify an unnecessary position, kind of like that summer intern position for your niece or nephew to keep the family peace.
The measure has bipartisan support.
Rep. Randy Friese, D-Tucson, said when people elect someone as governor they also are voting for that person’s political vision.
“It would benefit the state to have political alignment and, of course, vision alignment for someone who would take over as the chief executive of the state if the governor were to, for some reason, have to vacate that office,” he said.
Friese said it also means voters effectively get a chance to ratify who would become governor if the top position became vacant.
He noted, however, that there is a loophole of sorts.
The measure says if the lieutenant governor resigns or otherwise leaves office, it is up to the governor to name a replacement, subject only to state Senate confirmation. And that could mean that someone whose name never was on the ballot — and who never stood for election — could end up as governor.
Friese said that’s likely to be a rare occurrence, and not a reason for him to oppose the plan.
Sorry doctor, but no. If it can happen, it will happen. Arizona has a history of this.
But Rep. Pamela Powers Hannley, D-Tucson, said the problem is that an appointed lieutenant governor, once elevated to governor, would then get to appoint the next lieutenant governor.
“That takes the voice of the people too far out of the governor’s race in my opinion,” Powers Hannley said. “I think we should keep the system the way it is.”
Pamela is absolutely right.
Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming, New Hampshire and Maine do not have a lieutenant governor.
A number of states have a lieutenant governor, but they are not all chosen by this model of the gubernatorial nominee picking a running mate for whom no one ever voted in a primary.
This House Concurrent Resolution 2020 version is used in CO, FL, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MY, MI, MN, MT, NE, NJ, ND, OH, SC, SD, and UT.
Other states at least allow primary voters to have a say in the lieutenant governor candidate in the party primaries, i.e., separate election in the primary, same ticket in the general election: AK, CT, HI, MA, NM, NY, PA, and WI.
Still other states require a separate election for governor and lieutenant governor, which can result in a governor and lieutenant governor from different political parties (no different than what can occur under Arizona’s constitutional system of a governor and secretary of state): AL, AR, CA, DE, GA, ID, LA, MI, MO, NV, NC, OK, RI, TX, VT, VA, and WA.
Two states, Tennessee and West Virginia, have a lieutenant governor elected by the state senate. Hell no to this idea!
This is all about political party control, not a relevant consideration for establishing a constitutional office. If this is a concern to you, voters should be smart enough to vote strategically for their party candidates for governor and secretary of state. There may also be strategic reasons to elect a governor and a secretary of state from different parties. It can serve as a check on the political ambitions of a governor who wants to run for another office before the end of his or her term.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. If House Concurrent Resolution 2020 actually appears on the ballot this fall, voters need to call “strike three, you’re out!” on this unnecessary constitutional change.
Contact your state legislators to oppose this already twice voter-rejected ballot proposal.