Twenty-five percent of the decade’s gubernatorial successions are to happen this year alone, according to the National Lieutenant Governors Association, an affiliate of The Council of State Governments.
“Of the gubernatorial successions to occur this decade, one-quarter are slated to happen in the first seven months of this year alone,” said Julia Hurst, NLGA executive director.
The pending gubernatorial successions of the lieutenant governors of Alaska and Utah—once they become official—means there will be five NLGA members who succeed to governor so far this year, Hurst said.
“The ever increasing impact of the office of lieutenant governor on the leadership of the nation in the states is renewing interest in the office of lieutenant governor,” said Hurst.
Here are some more facts about the office of lieutenant governor, according to NLGA:
As of early July, 18 gubernatorial successions have occurred since 2000, and three have occurred this year. If the lieutenant governors of Alaska and Utah do succeed as expected, those successions will bring the totals to 20 gubernatorial successions since 2000, and five this year.
Ten current governors first served as lieutenant governor or first in line of succession. These include the governors of Nebraska, Arizona, New York, North Carolina, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia and Kansas. If the two pending successions occur, that number will increase to 12 sitting governors who were former lieutenant governors.
As of this November when New Jersey elects its first lieutenant governor, 45 states will have a lieutenant governor. Forty-three of those are elected statewide (Tennessee and West Virginia are not). In Arizona, Oregon and Wyoming, the secretary of state is first in succession, and in Maine and New Hampshire, the senate president is first in succession.
Including New Jersey in 2009, 25 states elect the governor and lieutenant governor as a team on the general election ticket, while 18 are elected separately. That team election, however, does not necessarily mirror the president/vice president team ticket process. A governor and lieutenant governor candidate may come through the primary elections or be nominated separately, paired at the general election. Full details on method of election are posted at www.nlga.us, click “site map,” click “team election data.”
Ten current governors are of the opposite party of the official first in line of succession: in Alabama, California, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana (governor selected an opposite party running mate), Pennsylvania (see next fact), Rhode Island, Tennessee (a senate president with the title lieutenant governor), Virginia and Wyoming (a secretary of state).
Given the large number of successions, other anomalies exist in the office of lieutenant governor. In Illinois, the office of lieutenant governor is vacant and will remain so until the end of the vacated term, though the legislature re-assigned the staff and duties of the lieutenant governor via legislation this term. Until July 8, in New York and Pennsylvania, the senate president was simultaneously holding the titles or duties of senator, senate sresident and lieutenant governor. In Pennsylvania, the lieutenant governor died, and in New York, the situation occurred as a result of succession. For the past several weeks, a New York Senate leadership disagreement left the question of who holds the lieutenant governor and succession role in question. The governor on July 8 appointed a lieutenant governor, a move which may be challenged in court.
Officials are also currently seated in the traditional role of first in line of succession but may not be able to succeed to office as of this date. Examples include the Arizona secretary of state. Since he was appointed, not elected, the constitutional requirement that a successor be elected would actually pass the role of succession to another official during this window. Likewise, Alaska gubernatorial succession is specific but appears unique. Should succession take place as expected, the new lieutenant governor—should he also subsequently succeed—would only hold office until a special election to fill both spots was held. In other words, after the pending succession were to occur, should an additional gubernatorial vacancy occur, the appointed lieutenant governor would serve as governor only until an election were hold to fill both positions.
For more information, contact: NLGA Director Julia Hurst at (859) 283-1400.