Friday, October 28, 2005

Leiutenant Governor

(This is cross-posted at, and there's a poll question attached to it. Please visit & vote.)

One of our poll questions in our next election will be whether or not we should amend the state constitution to provide for the office of lieutenant governor. Is this a good idea?

A recent poll shows that nearly half of the voters in Our Fair State have no idea of how the current succession rules work, even though it’s happened twice in recent years. However, apparently ¾ of us support the institution of a lieutenant governor. The fact that as a state most of us don’t understand this, but want it changed anyway, is never a good sign.

The Times of Trenton recently ran two op-ed pieces (Jon Shure’s is also here and I can’t get Neil Weisfeld’s opposing one any longer) with differences of opinion on the matter, and their own editorial in favor of the establishment of the office, as did the Philly Inquirer.

The amendment as proposed is flawed. The big issue is that the new LG would only serve until the next general election if s/he must assume the big chair (unless less than 60 days remain to the next gen. election, when it would go to the next one.) Then a special election would be held to fill out the remainder of the governor’s four year term- causing the LG to immediately start a re-election campaign upon being elevated. The establishment of a high-profile, elected statewide office to serve for possibly as little as two months? Sounds like a big, permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Second, duties of the LG are ill-defined, with permission to serve as a cabinet department head or another exec branch agency. It is expected this would happen but there is no requirement to do so.

Another issue is if a vacancy comes up in the LG position. The governor can appoint someone, without a confirmation by the Senate or Legislature. There is no “check” for this power, and the governor can hand-pick whomever s/he wants to be next in line.

I am not disagreeing with the concept of the LG for Our Fair State. But, if it’s such a great idea, we should be able to fix the (obvious) flaws in the proposed legislation before we approve it. The articles I’ve mentioned often point out how flawed the proposal is but that we should vote for it; personally, I’m not interested in enacting any more flawed reforms hoping it will all be better someday (If you need examples of this, see property tax reform..)

What do you think?

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