Friday, March 02, 2007

Time to do away with gubernatorial slates?

We really can't remember what the rationale was for putting the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor together on a slate, back when that was done in the 1990s. The slate requirement was part of a sweeping election reform effort, though, that also included the now-defunct partial public financing of gubernatorial campaigns, also known as welfare for politicians.

We seem to recall, though, that it was seen as an effort to make sure that the governor and lieutenant governor were on the same page. After all, when Brereton Jones was governor, he didn't get along all that well with Paul Patton, who was lieutenant during that time. And Jones, during his term as LG, didn't jibe with Gov. Wallace Wilkinson.

We also seem to recall that the antics of Thelma Stovall, who was LG under Julian Carroll, played a part in the decision as well. Stovall, you'll recall, once used her powers as acting governor when Carroll was out of state to call a special session of the legislature.

And during Louie Nunn's administration, the Republican governor had a Democrat LG in Wendell Ford.

If the slate requirement was supposed to ensure harmony between the state's top two officials, it hasn't worked out well. Gov. Paul Patton and Lt. Gov. Steve Henry, the first slate elected to office under the new arrangement, had their well-publicized difficulties.

And now we have Lt. Gov. Steve Pence's abandonment of his boss, Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

If more evidence that the slate idea is a flop is needed, then look at the new rules for gubernatorial elections. Candidates can't start campaigning and raising money until they pick a running mate. When Pence decided last year not to run again with Fletcher this time around, Fletcher had to return the money given to Fletcher-Pence and couldn't start raising money again until he chose Robbie Rudolph to run with him in '07. On the Democrat side, Henry got a late start in the race because he wasn't able to secure a running mate (Renee True) until just before the deadline.

There has been a move afoot to allow the party nominees to wait until after the primary to pick a running mate, but we think a better idea would be to eliminate the slate requirement altogether and go back to separate elections for governor and lieutenant governor. And we'd give the lieutenant governor some meaningful duties while we were at it, such as mandating that he or she serve as secretary of the governor's executive cabinet or something similar.

That, at least, would give some credence to Pence's statements, in light of the recent calls for his resignation, that he was elected by the people to serve out his term.

We would remind Pence that a very small percentage of voters took the LG candidate into consideration when they pulled the lever for Ernie Fletcher in 2003, and we would further remind him that he wasn't even Fletcher's first choice for a running mate.

But this really isn't about Pence. It's about restoring some legitimacy to the LG's position and making it relevant and meaningful. The lieutenant governor should either be loyal to the governor or independent of the governor. As it is now, the position is neither.


At 1:47 PM, March 02, 2007, Blogger M. Sheldon said...

NOOOOOO! I want to be Lt. Governor. Draw a nice paycheck...check
Do almost nothing...check.

Perfect job, if you ask me.

Honestly, if we didn't give the Lt. Gov. some serious responsibilities, we need to abolish the position all together, and have the Speaker second in line and Senate President third.
No need for a wing-man if his only duty is to be a wing-man, and he can shirk that duty at will.

At 7:07 PM, March 02, 2007, Blogger KYJurisDoctor said...

I agree with your statement that maybe candidates need to be able to choose their running mates AFTER the May primary, -- but I wonder if your comment "that a very small percentage of voters took the LG candidate into consideration when they pulled the lever for Ernie Fletcher in 2003" -- is NOT just unfounded but also self-serving. Otherwise, I'll be glad to post your supporting FACTS and logical CONCLUSIONS about it on my blog. Thanks.

At 10:53 AM, March 03, 2007, Blogger K-Pac II said...

Osi, it's conjecture, but we believe it has underlying truth. General consensus is that presidents have always chosen their running mates to strike a bit of geographical balance (although that wasn't true when Clinton picked someone from a neighboring state) and it has been widely believed in Kentucky that the same has been done. (Patton picked a Louisvillian, Fletcher picked a Louisvillian after first having chosen someone from that immediate area with southeastern Kentucky roots), Steve Nunn picked a Louisvillian, the Louisvillian Rebecca Jackson picked someone from western Kentucky, and so it goes.

We've never taken the vice presidential candidate into serious consideration when we have voted for a presidential candidate. And while we considered Steve Pence to be an asset at the time (hoo boy, how wrong we were) we certainly didn't cast our votes for Pence in 2003. Our votes were for Fletcher first and foremost.

At 1:27 PM, March 04, 2007, Blogger KYJurisDoctor said...

You are right in the geographical political dynamics, but I suspect some voted for Pence and others voted for Fletcher -- probably more voted because of the top ticketer. In other words, it took the two to form a winning team, with each one bringing something to the dance! This is pure conjecture, of course, too!!

At 7:28 PM, March 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...


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