Right after the State Senate confirmed Abel Maldonado as Lieutenant Governor late last month, the Republican stopped to chat with reporters. And this was one of the first things he mentioned:
“One thing that I’d like to see changed in the future is that it should be a Governor ticket with Lieutenant Governor.”
A day later, after Governor Schwarzenegger had sworn him in, Maldonado said he viewed the relationship between their two offices as a partnership:
“I will never ever go out there and say that the Governor is doing something wrong because that is not productive for California. We are going to be a team, we are going to be on the same team. It’s called the California team.”
But typically, the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor are not on the same team. And that’s o-k with many Californians, says Tim Hodson, who heads up the Center for California Studies at Sacramento State:
“The public seems to like the idea of electing a Governor of one party and a Lieutenant Governor of another party. That’s been almost continual since 1978.”
Hodson says California’s constitutional framers set up the separate elections in 1850 with one main goal:
“the original intent was to make sure the Governor didn’t have too much power.”
The Lieutenant Governor’s office is often ridiculed for its lack of power, but if a candidate ran jointly with the Governor, would they have a better shot at being effective once in office? Could it be a partnership the way Maldonado envisions?
“It’s conceivable that a Governor would look at a Lieutenant Governor as a partner rather than a rival and someone to be used rather than ignored.”
Hodson says lawmakers have attempted to change the constitution to put the pair on a single ticket in the past, but it’s never gotten anywhere – and he expects it would be a pretty tough sell now, as well.