April 12, 2024


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Omdahl: Lt. governor: The tonsil of state government – InForum


The Democratic-NPL celebration will be honoring the legacies of Govs. William Guy, Art Website link and George Sinner at a fifth annual raucous party in Bismarck on Could 7th.

On behalf of previous lieutenant governors – at minimum Wayne Sanstead and me – I am boycotting the occasion, exhausted of becoming treated as the expendable appendix or tonsil of system politic.

The federal government would not tumble but just hobble together devoid of our traditional again-up for the governor. Governors never ever get backed up even nevertheless that is the cause the workplace of lieutenant governor exists. The only time the governor needed a back-up, no one instructed me. Evidently, they thought the governor’s business would be safer if I remained ignorant.

There are 5 states that do not have lieutenant governors – Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon and Wyoming. North Dakota has just one but that will in all probability be abolished when the oil dollars operates out. Right after all, it is only an appendix or a tonsil.

In 1974, the men and women accepted a evaluate that necessary governors and lieutenant governors be elected as a group. Prior to that time, the point out had a dilemma with mixing horses of distinctive shades so they considered government would be much more tranquil underneath the crew idea.

Prof. Larry Sabota of the College of Virginia, a nationally-regarded expert of state and area federal government, summarized the situation of lieutenant governor:

“It’s a element-time, badly paid submit whose occupants predominantly expend their time working for governor.”

This is not so in North Dakota. In 1976, Wayne Sanstead grew to become the first full-time lieutenant governor and was supplied a portfolio that associated federal revenue. He became additional of a utility participant in afterwards many years.

Our lieutenant governors have not put in their time managing for governor. They have been faithfully fielding foul balls. For quite a few states, Sabota is suitable. Lieutenant governors are often making an attempt to upstage governors to obtain political recognition. They are a discomfort in the entire body politic and elsewhere.

Now days at the outset of an administration the governor problems an government order outlining the responsibilities of the lieutenant governor. Of training course, at the conclude of the buy we locate “and nearly anything else that comes up.”

So lieutenant governors chair or provide on many of the 100 committees, boards and commissions that make up North Dakota federal government. The governor normally receives a lot more invitations to communicate than he can accept, so the lieutenant governor fills in by ribboning prize pigs, naming h2o holes, opening picnic areas, or speaking at lesser funerals. Rarely a launching pad for a gubernatorial campaign.

Considering that early 1900, lieutenant governors in the U.S. attempted to operate for governor 55 instances and dropped 38 periods – 31% success amount or a 69% failure rate, relying on one’s stage of see.

In 1978, the individuals permitted a constitutional modification that would allow the lieutenant governor to crack ties in the senate. I had only just one tie in two periods of the senate.

Ironically, the problem was getting rid of the lieutenant governor as presiding officer in the senate. The proposal was a plot amongst then Sen. Wayne Stenehjem and me to get an interloper from the government branch thrown out of the legislative branch. The evaluate got swamped by a 59% “NO” vote, the constitutional basic principle of separation of powers notwithstanding.

Before the 1990 meeting of the National Lieutenant Governors’ Affiliation, I pointed out to the officers that the Countrywide Governors Association was assembly only three times although the lieutenant governors fulfilled for five times. It did not make feeling. An additional point, the material of the conference was intended to be workshops but no just one was attending them.

They explained to me that I was in line to be president but they experienced picked somebody else. Seemingly, they did not like North Dakota logic.

So I ongoing in obscurity devoid of their enable.

Omdahl is a previous N.D. lieutenant governor and retired College of North Dakota political science trainer. Email

[email protected]

This column does not essentially replicate the viewpoint of The Forum’s editorial board nor Discussion board ownership.


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