Governor, lieutenant governor should run as a team

info@islandpacket.comNovember 1, 2012 

Voters will be asked Tuesday to weigh in on a very pragmatic change to the state constitution, and it is an easy one to support -- allowing the governor to pick a running mate rather than electing governor and lieutenant governor separately.

Common sense says the person who would succeed the governor if necessary should be on the same team. A succession plan that offers some hope of continuity is a far better option than today's system.

The main point of having a lieutenant governor is to have someone ready to step in to fulfill the governor's duties if the governor cannot.

Getting the two to work as governing partners certainly would make better use of a statewide office than the lieutenant governor's largely ceremonial role of presiding over the Senate and his oversight of the Office on Aging. Voters have elected governors and lieutenant governors from different parties several times over the years, most recently in 1998.

Voting "yes" to the constitutional amendment question also would allow senators to vote for their presiding officer, and it would allow the governor to replace the lieutenant governor if necessary with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Had this system been in place, Haley would have picked a replacement for former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who pleaded guilty to unlawful reimbursements to his campaign fund and resigned in March, just 14 months into his four-year term. The Senate would have weighed in on her choice.

Instead, Glenn McConnell, then Senate president pro tem, stepped into the lieutenant governor's job and the Senate elected his replacement.

Right now, the lieutenant governor can cast a tie-breaking vote in the 46-member Senate. If the change is made, a tie would mean a vote fails, according to Senate rules, probably at no great harm to the lawmaking business.

Finally, if voters say "yes" to the changes, they wouldn't go into effect until the general election in 2018, a delay written into the bill by the Senate. There would have been no harm in implementing the change in 2014, the next time a governor and lieutenant governor are to be elected, but the amendment is what it is.

This is a very sensible approach to picking the state's executive team and one we're all very familiar with at the national level.

Please vote "yes."

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