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Abolish Lieutenant Governor Job: Would You Do It?

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder is a Republican; the governor is a Democrat. What's the point of the lieutenant governor's office under those conditions?

We finished a primary election last week that, among other things, now pits incumbent Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder — a Republican — against Democratic former state auditor Susan Montee in the November election.

These two powerful Missouri politicians will face off for what may be the most meaningless office in the state — particularly now, when Kinder is serving as lieutenant governor and the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, is a Democrat.

As Kinder's website notes, the lieutenant governor "is elected separately from the governor and each can be a member of different political parties. Missouri's Constitution provides that the lieutenant governor assumes the powers and duties of the governor when the governor is absent from the state or unable to serve."

(For what it's worth, that hasn't kept Nixon chained to the state. He's taken at least seven out-of-state trips that I could find: at least two overseas trade missions and several trips to the Washington DC area.)

In fairness, the lieutenant governor also presides over the Missouri senate, where he can cast tie-breaking votes and debate issues when the senate meets as a committee of the whole.

If you check the list of accomplishments on Kinder's website, you might note that for the most part, the things Kinder cites occurred in his first term — under Republican Gov. Matt Blunt.

For that, we are paying an annual budget of $407,557 for the lieutenant governor's office, which Kinder touted as a 10 percent decrease from when he started this term in 2009. We paid Kinder a salary of $86,484 in fiscal 2011.

Would you support getting rid of the Missouri lieutenant governor's position? If so, why? Would it be better to amend the Missouri Constitution so the governor and his lieutenant run together as a unified ticket, as the U.S. president and vice president do? Or do you think the current arrangement is just fine? If so, why?

James Ford August 13, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Dr. Beaver's constructive ideas should be presented to the voters of Missouri as an constitutional amendment.
Gregg Palermo August 13, 2012 at 01:26 AM
New York does, and I believe South Dakota and Kentucky do as well. South Carolina was considering it this year.
Benjamin Israel August 13, 2012 at 02:04 AM
And some states, like Arizona, don't have a lieutenant governor at all. When its governor was impeached a few years back, the secretary of state moved up to governor. In addition, if you look at the list of lieutenant governors on Wikipedia or in the Blue Book, you will see that the office has been vacant eleven times, and no one saw the need to fill the office. When Secretary of State Judi Moriarty was impeached a few years ago, she was replaced because her office had meaningful duties. When Roger Wilson became governor upon the death of Mel Carnahan, no one replaced him. Bearing this in mind, I hereby announce my write-in candidacy for lieutenant governor. I pledge to take the oath of office, fire everybody and resign, all in one day. However, I don't intend to campaign. If anyone else decides to make the same pledge, I'll vote for that candidate and probably get at least five other people to go along.
Delainey Maughs August 13, 2012 at 10:27 PM
I think the position has value, but agree that more could be added. What frustrates me is that primary ballots are by party. I wanted to vote for Mike Carter, but I had to declare a side. He would be ideal in a role like this, because he breaks ties, should they happen. He is on both sides of the fence, having run as a candidate for both major parties. He could have added value to the position by serving as a bipartisan liaison in some form. I am confident in the choice I made, but would really like to see a move towards unity or at least a party/system that I can connect with better.
Kurt Greenbaum August 14, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Illinois, too, although the system is a little wonky there as well: "Candidates for lieutenant governor are nominated independently of gubernatorial candidates, then thrown together as a one-vote-for-both partisan team in the general election. Uncomfortable pairings sometimes result, like the one then-Lt. Gov. Quinn had with former Gov. Rod Blagojevich." http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/strong-contrast-in-illinois-lieutenant-governor-candidates/article_a4005f8e-fe5e-59fe-8f9c-f68648225bc3.html

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