Before Mike Huckabee was a republican presidential candidate, he
Before Mike Huckabee was a republican presidential candidate, he served as the Lieutenant Governor of Arkansas

What do you want to be when you grow up?

No one ever says the vice president, the deputy CEO, the assistant coach, the associate manager, or the lieutenant governor. But what separates the position of lieutenant governor from the rest of the second-in-command positions? Well, the majority of Americans know who Joe Biden is, the majority of sports fanatics know their favorite teams’ coaching staff, and most employers know the several people on the executive boards. Yet despite the fact that 43 states and four U.S. territories have lieutenant governors, I think it is safe to say that the majority of citizens of any random state would not know even the first name of the person occupying this position, let alone any clue as to what the position entails.

The resignation rate is rather high. In the last few years alone, the lieutenant governors from Arkansas, South Carolina, Florida, Utah, Nebraska, Montana, and Massachusetts have all quit to take on “bigger” and “better” positions (as though any title without the word “governor” is worth something).

So how does the position work? Interestingly, it is different in every state. In Massachusetts, the lieutenant governor acts as governor in the governor’s absence and becomes acting governor should the governor leave office before ending his or her term. However, this position is not merely a sinecure in every state. For instance, in Texas the lieutenant governor is quite influential, serving as the president of the State Senate, the offical in charge of appointing members of Senate Committees, and the split for even votes. Some maintain that in Texas, the lieutenant governor position is actually more powerful than the governor. In 18 states, the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, which can result in running mates from different parties and a drastic change of course if the governor were to leave office (an example would be 1996 Arkansas when Democrat Jim “Guy” Tucker resigned and Republican Mike Huckabee took his place).

Power varies from state to state and from territory to territory, but for the most part the job of lieutenant governor is much like any other “second-in-command position”: a stepping stone for future ambitions. As Former Illinois Lieutenant Governor Neil Hartigan (1973-1977) claimed, “You won’t have a lot in the way of money. You won’t have a lot in the way of staff, but you will have the word ‘governor’ in your title.”

So, ambitious Yalies, instead of dreaming of saving the world, consider becoming a lieutenant governor! You have most of the perks of being a governor without all the work. And besides, it is a launching pad to higher office. Consider the fact that two of the most hardworking and least laissez-faire Presidents were former lieutenant governors – that’s right, Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge!

All jokes aside, please take the time to learn the name of your lieutenant governor – try to get to know him or her. This way, perhaps these officeholders will not be dropping like flies, and we can give the position the respect that it deserves!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *