by James J Devine
The first New Jersey lieutenant governor will be elected in 2009.
When New Jersey selects our first lieutenant governor next year, that person will still not be someone with a statewide electoral mandate if he should come to succeed a governor who leaves office, whether by death, impeachment or resignation.
The Legislature created an office of lieutenant governor that deprives voters of any meaningful role in the selection process.
The choice of a lieutenant governor will be entirely in the hands of one person—the candidate for governor who wins the general election. No convention will ratify the choice.
Nobody will “run” for lieutenant governor in the traditional sense because the job will be filled by one person who casts the only vote.
A vice presidential nominee for a major political party is selected by the same convention delegates who formally nominate each presidential candidate. That’s how Dick Cheney and Al Gore each got the job.
When Gerald Ford and Nelson Rockefeller were appointed vice president, they had to win the approval of a majority in both houses of Congress.
The New Jersey Legislature virtually guaranteed that our state will never have the best qualified lieutenant governor.
The gubernatorial nominees will pick someone expected to enhance their capacity to attract votes among some segment of the state’s population, such as a geographic area, sex, race or ethnic group.
If a lieutenant governor should die in office, quit or be impeached, the constitution authorizes the governor to name a replacement without the approval of the voters, the Legislature or anyone else.
The Legislature created another taxpayer-funded job for a political hack, and by doing so, it improved the chance that succession will ultimately fall into the hands of a tool of corrupt politicians instead of some genuinely decent public servant who is interested in service the people.
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