Blogs > Cliopatria > Fear the Turtle!

Jan 1, 2005 8:26 pm

Fear the Turtle!

Critics sometimes suggest that the office of lieutenant governor should be abolished, especially in a state like Illinois, which has a very powerful governorship. Adlai Stevenson, III certainly thought so--the office almost certainly cost him the governorship in 1986, when a Larouchite upset the slated candidated for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary. Illinois voters were certainly not going to elect a ticket that would place a Larouchite a heartbeat away from controlling the state's National Guard, and so Stevenson resigned as Democratic nominee (the Dems technically ran no one for governor in 1986), and stood instead as the candidate of the newly created Solidarity Party. The resulting confusion, coupled with his losing the ability to obtain straight-ticket Democratic voters, robbed Stevenson of any chance of winning.

The Land of Lincoln's current lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn, has"vowed to use the office to be an advocate for taxpayers and consumers": no one should mistake his office as a mere dispenser of patronage or trivial initiatives.

Among his recent initiatives: presiding over a statewide internet ballot . . . to select the official state reptile and official state amphibian. Winners were the painted turtle and the eastern tiger salamander. (The latter, which captured an impressive 19,217 votes in the amphibian contest, is the"largest of all Illinois terrestrial salamanders," and it"has a voracious appetite for any invertebrate it can overpower and swallow.")

It's nice to see Quinn has devoted himself to the important tasks of the people. How could anyone possibly say lieutenant governors are irrelevant?

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Richard Henry Morgan - 1/2/2005

Well, I guess you know your Texas politics rather well after all. I did spend three years in Austin, some of it on institutional money, most of it in the Benson Center, but some of it at the LBJ Center next door (one semester I took a grad economic history seminar from a big LBJ advisor there -- I'm sure you can figure out who). You hang out there long enough, with your ears open, and you hear things ...

Robert KC Johnson - 1/2/2005

Quite so! For many years, the office was in practical terms more powerful than the governorship.

Richard Henry Morgan - 1/2/2005

Interestingly, the office of Lt. Governor in Texas is an extremely powerful one:

Charles V. Mutschler - 1/2/2005

Washington State, with a fine sense of the absurd, once elected a Seattle nightclub band leader to be Lt. Governor.


Jonathan Dresner - 1/2/2005

...soil? New Jersey just named some.

... cookie? Massachusetts almost broke out into a shooting war over that one.

They got over 75K votes. Who's fooling who?

Robert KC Johnson - 1/1/2005

Having displayed such remarkable political and intellectual skills during the recall campaign, somehow I'm not surprised by Bustamante's latest effort!

Chris Bray - 1/1/2005

Meanwhile, in California, Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante is staying busy with his "One California" commission, charged with the urgent tasks of dialoging against hate and promoting "political debate that is free of scapegoating and stereotyping."

Already, the effort had rendered California almost entirely free of hate and stereotyping.