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Simon skewed my proposal

By Staff | May 19, 2011

In a letter to The Chronicle on May 13, Elliot Simon misrepresented my proposal, first presented in The Chronicle back in July and discussed in many print and audio forums since, to change West Virginia’s gubernatorial succession laws and create the office of lieutenant governor, as 40 other states have done. Simon said that it would depend on “how the office is defined and the process is established – perhaps the governor and lieutenant governor could even be from different parties.”

I guess he hasn’t been paying attention. I have stressed that the change in our state’s constitution necessary to create this office include a provision that the governor and lieutenant governor must run as a team, in the primary and general election, with one vote for both (as is the case with the president and vice president of the United States). There could be no “additional race.” The only way the two could be of different parties would be if a candidate for governor chose a member of another party as his running mate. Good luck with that in any party’s primary.

He goes on to say that “if” such a scenario were to occur, “the choice then (of lieutenant governor) does not lie with the voters.” That’s preposterous. Any voter can choose to vote against a combined ticket of governor-lieutenant governor if he or she disapproves of the governor’s choice of running mate.

Simon also says that the creation of such an office “would inexorably lead to additional staff and other ancillary items to support the position” (of lieutenant governor). How, pray tell? Under my proposal (again, thoroughly discussed in many forums for almost a year) the state constitution would expressly forbid any penny of salary or expense reimbursement and would also expressly forbid even a one-room office. The lieutenant governor would run a department of state government, period.

Mr. Simon apparently thinks it would be better for a departed governor to be succeeded by someone elected by only the majority party caucus in the 34-member state senate than by a lieutenant governor elected by all the people. Well, now.