Proposition 111 seeks to clarify succession line
Should Arizona have a lieutenant governor or not? That's the question voters are being asked to decide in the upcoming election.
The reality is that our state already has an elected position that is similar to lieutenant governor, but it has another name - secretary of state. Proposition 111 essentially seeks to change the name to lieutenant governor, although it goes a step farther by politically linking the office with the governor.
Currently, the secretary of state and the governor run separately and can be - and often are - from different political parties. Proponents of Prop 111 say this is a problem because the secretary of state is designated to succeed the governor in midterm if necessary.
One would think this is rare, but it has happened fairly often in Arizona for various reasons, the latest being the departure of Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano to be director of Homeland Security in the Obama administration. She was replaced by Republican Secretary of State Jan Brewer, who brought a different agenda to state politics than voters had chosen with Napolitano.
Brewer believes change is needed, even though she benefited from the current situation, and supports the measure.
Under Prop 111, the renamed lieutenant governor would have to be from the same party as the governor and they would run as a joint ticket in the general election. That is how most other states do it, and it makes a lot of sense. The change would take effect with the 2014 election.
There is one issue yet unresolved. What if there was no candidate to pair with the governor or vice versa? There wouldn't be a joint ticket for voters to consider. That is most likely to happen with smaller political parities that have fewer candidates. It is a situation that would have to be dealt with in writing the change into election law.
Overall, however, the change would be beneficial.
The name lieutenant governor gives a clearer indication of the succession role of the position, whether on a temporary or permanent basis, when they governor is unable to perform his or her duties.
And having the two positions from the same political party is more likely to maintain the political continuity desired by voters.