Pennsylvania Lawmakers Advance Proposal to End Lieutenant Governor Elections

January 31, 2020 by Dan McCue

The Pennsylvania state Senate has voted to advance a proposed constitutional amendment that would end the current practice of having the governor and lieutenant governor run separately for their party’s nomination.

Currently, candidates for Pennsylvania governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries for their party’s nomination but run on a joint ticket in the general election.

The proposed amendment endorsed by the Republican-controlled state Senate Wednesday by a 46-2 vote, would enable gubernatorial candidates to select a lieutenant governor in a manner similar to how presidential candidates select their running mates.

“In the past, we have seen a leadership team separate into two warring factions that spent weeks not even talking to one another,” said state Sen. David G. Argall, the primary sponsor of the bill.

“If we want to succeed in Pennsylvania, then our top two executive officials need to see eye-to-eye on the issues and not get distracted by petty rivalries,” he added.

Under the proposal, Senate Bill 133, the governor would pick his or her running mate prior to the November general election. However, the pick would still have to be approved by the nominee’s political party before being added to the ballot.

The Pennsylvania Senate initially voted in favor of the measure last April, 46-2, and the state’s Republican-controlled House passed the measure 130-67 in December, with most of the Democrats in the chamber voting against it.

The House amended the legislation to add a provision for third party candidates wanting to run for lieutenant governor, necessitating a second vote in the Senate.

Because the Pennsylvania Constitution requires the legislature to approve an amendment during two successive legislative sessions, the legislature will need to adopt the amendment again during the 2021-2022 session for it to appear on the ballot.

Pennsylvania is one of eight states in which the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary but runs on a single ticket with the gubernatorial nominee in the general election.

In 26 states, gubernatorial and lieutenant gubernatorial candidates appear on the same ticket as running mates. In 18 of those states, gubernatorial candidates select their running mates either before or after the primary.

In 17 states, the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor.

If approved and added to the ballot in 2021, it could be in effect for the 2022 gubernatorial election.

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