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< Odds and Ends | Main | Possible Veto Bait >


A succession election?

Posted at 2:56 PM on March 17, 2008 by Michael Marchio (1 Comments)

Last week, MPR reported between Jan. 1 and March 12, Gov. Pawlenty was out of the state 25 times, or at least one out of every three days. Some was to campaign for his guy, Sen. John McCain, some for his work with the National Governor's Association, some for a security conference in Germany, and some in Washington for various other reasons, including appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows.

That might suggest that the governor's national profile is on the rise, and some have already handicapped his odds at being asked to be on a ticket with McCain as pretty good.

From that article, by Republican strategist Todd Domke, it quotes McCain as saying about Pawlenty during the 2006 campaign that "This is the kind of leadership that I'd like to pass the torch to."

If Pawlenty were to resign from his post to take the V.P. spot in a John McCain administration, under the Minnesota Constitution, Lt. Gov. Carol Molnau would serve out the rest of his term, and the President of the Senate, Sen. Jim Metzen (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) would serve as the Lt. Governor.

But if SF3737 gains some traction, that could all change. The bill calls for a constitutional amendment to be put on the ballot for Nov. 2008, that would require a special election to fill the office between 60 and 120 days of the vacancy. If approved by voters, it would go into effect immediately.

I talked to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) this afternoon, and he said that he isn't sponsoring the bill because of the possible V.P. speculation about the Gov. Pawlenty, or Lt. Governor Molnau personally, but to make sure that the desire of voters is reflected in the governor's office.

"When people vote for governor, it's not because of who the lieutenant governor is. That's more of a ceremonial post," he said, and added that he thinks that other offices, like U.S. Senator, should be filled by voters as well, not by appointment.

Sen. Wiger acknowledged that some would view this as a political move, and the response among his fellow lawmakers has been mixed. So far, no companion has been filed in the House.

It is interesting how some elected offices, like the presidency or governorship, are filled by succession, while others, such as state lawmakers, are filled by special elections. Just ask Sen. Kevin Dahle.

Should lieutenant governors, or vice presidents for that matter, fill the entirety of the office's term after they take over? Or should voters just consider the entirety of a ticket more closely when they decide who to vote for? The Constitution indicates the latter, but then I suppose that's what constitutional amendments are for.


Comments (1)


Bandying about the Constitutional Amendment just gets my goat. This is certainly the opportunity to clarify policy statements for the state/country. " ... shall establish no religion ... rights ... shall not be abridged ... " "no slavery" "women can vote" "everyone can vote", etc. These are NOT ways to circumvent the democratic Trinity. Transportation Taxes are NOT a policy statement to be tacked onto the Constitution because you can't get it through normal channels. The frequency with which people decide they need a 'constitutional amendment' just pisses me off. That said,

Elections and election rules are the policy statement of how we will choose the type of government we live under. In this case, yes, I guess that's what cons. amendments are for.

No, if we can just get them to abolish caucuses and have a *real* election, I'd be even happier.

Posted by Elizabeth T. | March 18, 2008 11:32 PM