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Lieutenant Governors To Watch

November 16, 2010

Whether Dalrymple will run for re-election in 2012 is still up in the air (he has said he likely won't make up his mind until he gets through the legislative session) and when or if Wrigley will run is also an unknown. But Wrigley's new position will allow him a natural platform from which he can launch a bid, should he elect to do so.

Iowa: Lt. Gov.-elect Kim Reynolds (R)

After winning a heated primary against Tea Party candidate Bob Vander Plaats (R), Gov.-elect Terry Branstad (R) chose Reynolds to be his running mate, a move widely viewed as an attempt to shore up support among conservative voters. The GOP primary left many supporters in Vander Plaats' conservative base deflated and a lack of an immediate endorsement from Vander Plaats raised the question of whether Branstad would have trouble turning out conservatives in the general election.

Reynolds, a state senator and admirer of Sarah Palin (R) did travel the state on the campaign trail, but the focus remained largely on Branstad. The race between Gov. Chet Culver (D) and Branstad ended up being about a 10-point contest, and perhaps if it was closer, Reynolds would have played a more pivotal role. But her presence on the ticket was a plus for the Branstad campaign and her selection marked one of the key moments in the race.

Wisconsin: Lt. Gov.-elect  Rebecca Kleefisch (R)

Kleefisch, a favorite of Tea Partiers, surprised many observers by winning a contested GOP primary. The former TV news reporter and social conservative received widespread coverage across the state when she appeared in a TV ad with Gov.-elect Scott Walker (R). In the ad, Kleefisch, a cancer survivor, criticized Democratic nominee Tom Barrett (D) for supporting a "government takeover" of health care. Opponents called the ad hypocritical, because Kleefisch received coverage paid for by the government, due to the fact that her husband is a state rep.

A controversial comment about gay marriage that surfaced late in the race put Kleefisch on the defensive, but she remains a favorite of conservative voters and helped Walker shore up his conservative support during the campaign.

Arizona: No Lieutenant Governor

In Arizona, a state without an lieutenant governor (the Secretary of State comes directly after the governor in the line of succession), a ballot proposition which would have created an lieutenant governor position was rejected by voters on Nov. 2.

Opponents were concerned that such a system would unfairly exclude independent candidates while others saw a conflict of interest in having the chief elections officer (the proposition would have had the lieutenant governor absorb the responsibilities assigned to the Secretary of State) simultaneously running on a joint-party ticket.

Those who supported the idea argued for continuity of leadership, should a sitting governor vacate the position for any reason. In others words, if voters selected for a Republican in the gubernatorial race, and that individual was not able to serve out her entire term, another Republican, who would have run on the party ticket for lieutenant governor in the general election would become governor.

Gov. Jan Brewer (R) -- who was formerly Arizona's Secretary of State -- became governor in 2009 when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano was tapped by Pres. Obama to become Homeland Security Secretary, instantly placing the Democratic controlled seat into the hands of a Republican. Nonetheless, Brewer supported the proposition to create an lieutenant governor position this year.

Don't be surprised if you see another ballot proposition in the future calling for the creation of a lieutenant governor in Arizona. This was not the first time Arizona voters were faced with the choice of creating an lieutenant governor position -- in 1994, voters also rejected a similar measure.

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