Strong Thoughts on the Office of Lt. GovernorGuest Opinion
By: Dave Graham
The office of Lt. Governor of Delaware may be compared to the office of Vice-President of the United States. The Lt. Governor shall assume the duties of the Chief Executive, the Governor, in the event of his or her resignation, demise or incapacity, plus preside over the Senate and the Board of Parole and Pardons and only cast a vote in the State Senate in the event of a tie.
Accordingly, it is not a proactive position of power, per se. More accurately, it is a position of influence. So, the question arises as to what qualities and attributes…beyond intelligence, honesty, and integrity … are desirable in the next Lt. Governor for Delaware:
First, a working knowledge of the state and U.S. Constitutions
Second, dedication to the greater public interest
Third, the ability to serve in an advisory capacity and support the Governor
Fourth, good communications skills coupled with a positive attitude.
Fifth, adaptability and management skills
Sixth, insight and creativity
As state government, public issues and the common problems Delaware faces become more complicated, a governor may increasingly delegate authority to or seek advice from the Lt. Governor. We must elect someone who is capable of wise counsel, and able to assume the office of Governor, if and when necessary, with a minimum of difficulties.
However, since the Governor and Lt. Governor are separately elected, there is a possibility they will hail from opposing political parties. In that event, the Lt. Governor simply presides over the Delaware Senate, the Board of Pardons and Parole, casts a vote in the event of State Senate ties, collects a salary plus benefits in excess of $70,000, and inquires as to the health and welfare of the sitting Governor of the opposing party, unless we are fortunate to have two exceptional people of opposing politial parties, who place the greater public interest above First State partisan politics as usual
If Delaware voters wisely elect a duo from the same political party, as has happened every four years since 1988, then the Lt. Governor may work in tandem with the governor to promote a strong and effective State government that serves all the citizens of Delaware.
Finally, as the office of Lt. Governor, while not primary, is still important in the effective governance of Delaware, the State Legislature may need to rethink the issues of succesion constructively for the 21st Century. Given the recent state constitutional issue of the vacancy created by the resignation of the Lt. Governor Mathew P. Denn (now Attorney General Mathew P. Denn), a Delaware constitutional amendment to roughly mirror the U.S. Constitution should be considered.
Unless there is also constitutional amendment to allow the nomination of a new Lt. Governor by the sitting Governor with State Senate confirmation, an alternative may be a change in the order of succession in the event of a vacancy of the Governor’s chair. Currently, an unelected and appointed Secretary of State would the next in line for Governor. Perhaps the Delaware Constitution should also be amended to provide for the Speaker of the House followed by the Senate President Pro Tem, both elected officials to succeed in the event there is no sitting Lt. Governor.
Ultimately, it is up to the People to influence their State Representatives in deciding this question.
[ Disclosure: Dave Graham, of Smyrna, was the 2014 Independent Party of Delaware Candidate for Attorney General, the 2012 Independent Party-endorsed Republican Write-in Candidate for Governor, the 2010 Republican Write-in Candidate for Attorney General, a 2008 filed Republican Candidate for Governor, and a Candidate in the 2004 Republican Primary for Governor. A 1979 graduate of Goldey Beacom College and a Delaware-licensed C.P.A., in his youth, Mr. Graham served as a sergeant with U.S. Army First Armored Division in Germany. ]