Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lieutenant

Pennsylvania's first female Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll

There’s got to be a better way to pick the Lt. Governor in Pennsylvania.

Currently, the major political parties nominate candidates for the number two job in state government in the General Primary in May. The nominees then join the candidates for Governor to form a ticket. In November, voters vote for a pair of candidates from one party. You must vote for candidates of the same political party. There are currently twelve candidates, three Democrats and nine Republicans, running for Lt. Governor in 2010 and most voters would be hard pressed to name a few let alone all of them. In a crowded field, one will win with a very low percentage of the vote. Certainly it won’t be a mandate.

And because the nominee is chosen by voters, it is possible that a party could choose nominees for Governor and Lt. Governor who are not politically compatible.

The last three Governors have had to deal with the Lt. Governor issue. Mark Singel became Acting Governor when Gov. Robert P. Casey underwent transplant surgery in 1993. Though elected together, the two men had grown apart politically. Lt. Governor Mark Schweiker became the 45th Governor of Pennsylvania when Tom Ridge resigned to take the job as first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. In 2008, Catherine Baker Knoll died in office. Under the state constitution, State Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati succeeded her as Lieutenant Governor. A Republican now serves as the number two to Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

In November 2005, State Senator and former Lieutenant Governor Robert Jubelirer (he became Schweiker’s Lt. Governor) proposed legislation in which the Lieutenant Governor's primary election would be dropped in favor of a gubernatorial candidate selecting a "running-mate" for the November general election, similar to a presidential candidate choosing a Vice Presidential candidate.

That’s the way it should be done. Some would argue that takes the decision out of the hands of voters. There are no such complaints on the federal level.Give the Gubernatorial nominee thirty days to choose his running-mate. Mandate that the choice be endorsed by the parties’ State Committees.

And let the race begin.

No comments: