I received this email last week…
Long time reader of your blog.
Could you comment on your blog about the Lt. Governor Constitutional Amendment vote, set for next Tuesday? I’ve seen very little written about this, anywhere in the state.
I am generally for it, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what the point of the job of Lt. Gov. if it passes. I’ve long thought if we have to have the office, why not fold up and combine the Sec. of State into the Lt. Gov’s office?
As it is, if this passes, the next Lt. Gov. will essentially be an elected staff member of the Governor’s office, with no role in Senate. I guess that is fine, especially after watching the candidates for the office two years ago throw themselves around the state, spending millions, for a part time job. But the amendment could be better thought out.
… and decided to wait for Cindi Scoppe to explain it, which she did quite adequately on Sunday, in what we used to call a “steak and steak” presentation — both an editorial endorsement, and a column that elaborates upon the same subject.
To answer the reader’s questions from my own perspective:
- There isn’t any point to the lieutenant governor’s office, beyond being prepared to take over if the governor dies.
- That’s different from the duties of the secretary of state.
- There’s no reason for a member of the executive branch to preside over the Senate. Cindi explained very well Sunday how how nonessential the gov lite is in that role.
Basically, it has never made sense for the person a heartbeat away from the governor’s office not to have run on the same platform as the governor. It means that if the governor dies or otherwise leaves office, the position will be filled by someone who in no way shares the characteristics or goals or vision that the voters opted for in electing that governor.
Basically, this change gives the position a purpose it had lacked, and shows greater respect for the wishes of the people as expressed in elections.
It’s not a big deal. It’s really not much of a reform, nothing like what South Carolina needs. (It’s one of the least consequential things we pushed for with the Power Failure series in 1991, and ever since as an editorial topic.) But as Cindi said, it’s something. And more than that, it’s one tiny thing that the status quo worshipers in the Legislature have allowed us to vote on. If we say no to it, I assure you, they will wave that around as proof that we don’t really want reform in South Carolina.