Governor and lt. governor should be a team

June 17, 2017

The lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania has few official duties, and Gov. Tom Wolf has, from all accounts, kept Lt. Gov. Mike Stack at arm’s length. Stack was selected separately from Wolf on the primary ballot in 2014, and, more recently, Wolf stripped Stack of his state police detail and pared back his staff at the lieutenant governor’s mansion after reports that Stack and his wife were mistreating the people who worked for them.

The lieutenant governor has since apologized for blowing his, um, stack.

Setting aside issues surrounding Stack’s conduct, it doesn’t make much sense that a Pennsylvania governor can be saddled with a second-in-command with whom he has no rapport. It could be that the lieutenant governor doesn’t even agree with the governor’s agenda. Pennsylvania is one of only 13 states where candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are selected separately by primary voters. Pennsylvania should join the 37 other states where voters select gubernatorial candidates in primary elections, then allow them to choose their running mates.

A bill that’s been introduced in the state Senate by Dave Argall, a Berks County Republican, would do just that. Because it would entail the state’s constitution being amended, it would have to be approved in two successive legislative sessions, and then be put on the ballot for voters to decide. This means that whoever wins the 2018 election will still be operating under the current system, but, depending how quickly this moves forward, candidates in 2022 and beyond would be able to pick their sidekicks.

Argall contends having a lieutenant governor is pointless and a waste of money if he is at loggerheads with his boss.

“With these kinds of dire economic circumstances, we cannot afford to waste one more nickel on a system where the No. 1 and No. 2 elected officials in the executive branch fail to work together as a team,” he said.

Will it happen? Hard to say. If it does, it will be long overdue.

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