Lieutenant Governors: How Selection Rules Foster Diversity

Some states let candidates for governor pick their own running mates. It's no coincidence that those states tend to end up with lieutenant governors who aren't white men.
by | August 11, 2010

Wow, those Georgia Republican results really confirmed the potency/irrelevance of Sarah Palin's endorsement. John Hickenlooper sure is lucky that he gets to face a flawed opponent in the general election like Scott McInnis/Don Maes. The Democratic race for Senate in Colorado proves if a Democrat can have only one person's endorsement in a primary the best one still is Barack Obama/Bill Clinton.

Ok, I'll fess up. I have no idea what happened in yesterday's elections. I'm writing this before they ever took place. By the time you read this, I'll be at the beach. With any luck, I'm now gorged on funnel cake and suffering from right elbow tendonitis from playing so much skee ball.

So, even though I'm sure yesterday's elections were quite exciting, I'm just going to bring you one thought I happened to have a few days ago, when Hickenlooper named Joe Garcia, a college president, as his running mate. By pretty much all accounts, Garcia is well-qualified for the job. Even some Colorado Republicans had nice things to say about him.

But, there are lots of people who are qualified to be lieutenant governor of Colorado (being a college president is definitely way harder). It would be naive to think it never occurred to Hickenlooper that picking Garcia would help him with Hispanic voters.

So, my realization: One side effect of states letting gubernatorial candidates pick their own running mates (as several do) is to bring more diversity into statewide offices, since there's often a political reason to pick someone other than a white man. There are lots of examples. Even John McCain's pick of Sarah Palin could be viewed through this lens.

In fact, after the 2008 tickets I wonder if it will become rare for either party to nominate two white men for president. It certainly wouldn't be unfair if it did become rare. White men always have been a minority in this country, but they did get to dominate politics for a couple of centuries.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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