Friday, May 25, 2012

The LG race: Will Kleefisch be the big winner in the recall?

Here's an article on the possibility of a Governor/Lieutenant Governor split in Wisconsin. 

I believe Kleefisch is set to be one of the big beneficiaries of the recall. I've studied the Lieutenant Governors throughout the US (note the paper was written before the 2010 election), and there is a great difference between LGs who are elected on the same ticket versus those elected on a different ticket. The same ticket LG position is frequently a career-stopping dead-end. Not so for the split ticket one -- those officials go on to win major offices (Governor, Senator, Congress) at a much higher rate. 

There is an obvious reason for this -- they have shown success before the voters, and create an independent electoral machine to win voters. Also, since they do not serve at the pleasure of the Governor, they are more likely to stake out independent positions from the Governor and Legislature. 

Despite the comments of the last split ticket Governor quote below, I'm of the opinion that split ticket LG are a much better for effective government. They might not get along with the top guy? It might inhibit the Governor from resigning? Not out problem. 

What is our problem is that the candidate chosen is frequently enough completely unsuited for the possibility of stepping up to the top job (I'm thinking of some desultory picks in NY, I have no knowledge about the Wisconsin LGs). A separately elected LG is more likely to be vetted by voters and the media. And that's what we want.

How does the help Kleefisch? As a LG, she was relatively unknown in a very anonymous position. Now, she has gained much greater recognition and if she wins, has won race on her own (albeit swept up by the spending by Walker). While she hasn't created the independent machine, she has advanced in the public eye.

Two things to note here. There have been seven Lieutenant Governors (including Kleefisch) since Wisconsin changed the laws to provide a same ticket election for Governor/Lieutenant Governor. Of those six (exclusing Kleefisch), four of them never held or received their party's nomination for another major office (Governor, Senator, Congress). The other two stepped up to the Governorship after the resignation of the sitting governor (Martin Schreiber and Scott McCallum). Both of those men received their party's nomination in the next election, which they lost.

Here's some additional relevant points from the MJS article:
Following a 1967 constitutional amendment, contenders for the state's top two offices have been elected together on a single-party ticket. Because the governor and lieutenant governor must be recalled separately, however, the June 5 vote could result in the two jobs being held by members of different parties for the first time since 1965.
That was the year Democrat Patrick Lucey, who would later serve as governor, took the lieutenant governor's office under Republican governor and longtime friend Warren Knowles.
Now 94, Lucey said he and Knowles "got along fine." The way the lieutenant governor is selected changed "because it made no sense."

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