Have you ever used anabolic steroids? Been arrested for domestic battery? Had a live-in girlfriend who was a prostitute? Been accused of falling $54,000 behind on child support? If so, you might be lieutenant governor material. Scott Lee Cohen's victory in Illinois' Democratic primary has people scratching their heads aboutthe No. 2 job. Here are some facts:
1. It's an office that people love to hate -- or at least want to abolish. In. the last year, South Carolina senators, the Louisiana governor and lawmakers in California and Wisconsin have talked about doing away with the office. "I cannot think of one solitary contribution our lieutenant governors have made to the operation of state government other than sitting around, waiting for the current officeholder to pass on or leave town," said state Sen. Alan Lasee, a Wisconsin Republican.2. Despite calls to abolish the job of lieutenant governor elsewhere, New Jersey just added the position. Republican Kim Guadagno became the state's first second banana last month.
Ron Ramsey, who is running for governor, gave support to the "birther" movement last week with his comments to Nashville Republicans. Asked aboutsuspicions that President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., he said: "I'vegot a tableful of advisers sitting over there and they'll probably start cringing right about now when I start talking aboutsome of this stuff right here. ... I'm going to tell you something. I don't know whether President Obama is a citizen of theUnited States or not. I don't know what the whole deal is there."
4. Former Wisconsin Lt. Gov. John Strange was an enemy of beer. While German forces were ravaging Europein World War I, Strange discovered danger closer to home. "We have German enemies in this country too," he said. "And the worst of our German enemies, the most treacherous, the most menacing, are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz and Miller."
5. Only two U.S. presidents have been lieutenant governors. Ironically, one succeeded the other. Maybe Warren Harding saw the value of such experience when he selected Calvin Coolidge to be his running mate. It proved important, because Coolidge took over in 1923 when Harding died in office. Maybe not so ironically, both are considered second-rate presidents.
6. In 1825, Illinois Gov. Edward Coles told Lt. Gov. Adolphus Hubbard that he would be traveling out of state for about three months and that Hubbard would take over temporarily. When Coles returned about 10 weeks later, Hubbard claimed Coles had forfeited his job. But the Illinois Supreme Court thought differently. In another coup attempt by a lieutenant governor, Florida's William Gleason tried to replace Harrison Reed in the aftermath of the Civil War. Gleason proclaimed himself governor and started signing documents from his hotel. It backfired. Not only did a court rule he wasn't governor, but it also found he was ineligible to be lieutenant governor because he hadn't been a state resident long enough.
7. In the early 19th century, the British-held island of Malta was administered bya lieutenant governor with a particularly macho name: Manley Power.
8. In the past 25 years, 24 lieutenant governors have moved into the governor's mansion without winning election to the job. The majority of those -- 14 -- moved up because the sitting governor accepted a higher post, such as president (Bill Clinton and George W. Bush). Five moved up after scandal-forced resignation or ouster (adios, Rod Blagojevich). Another five took over because of the death of the elected officeholder.
9. Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, the son of a freed black slave and a white planter, became the first African-American governor in the U.S. in 1872. Known as P.B.S. Pinchback, he achieved that high office without election. When Louisiana's lieutenant governor died, Pinchback was appointed in his place. Then the governor was impeached, and Pinchback served as the state's leader for 35 days. It would be 118 years before another black American (Virginia's Douglas Wilder) gained a governorship.
10. John W. Brown, Ohio's lieutenant governor for 16 years, served as the state's governor for only a week and a half, but he made the most of it. When the governor quit early to take a U.S. Senate seat in 1957, his elected successor could not take office until 11 days later. Brown moved into the governor's office, replacing portraits of Democrats with those of Republicans. He called a joint session of the General Assembly and made a State of the State speech. He commuted the sentences of several murderers. He demanded the governor's salary for 11 days -- and got it.
Sources: "Duty, Honor, Victory: America's Athletes in World War II" by Gary L. Bloomfield; "200 Quick Looks at Florida History" by James C. Clark; "Ohio Politics" by Alexander P. Lamis and Mary Anne Sharkey; "Ambitious Brew: The Story of American Beer" By Maureen Ogle; "Governor Edward Coles" edited by Clarence Walworth Alvord ; "The Bench and the Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent, Vol. 1" edited by John McAuley Palmer; Larry Sabato, director, University of Virginia's Center for Politics; nashvillescene.com; sos.louisiana.gov; britishempire.co.uk
10 things you might not know about lieutenant governors
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