Light Work If You Can Get It

It's a tired old cliche of American politics that the job of lieutenant governor is, for the most part, boring and thankless. Like many cliches, ...
by | June 7, 2006

It's a tired old cliche of American politics that the job of lieutenant governor is, for the most part, boring and thankless. Like many cliches, of course, there's a great deal of truth to it.

Which is why it's bizarre that so many politicians are jumping at the chance--early in the process--to run for the job. It's become the fashion for wannabe governors to pick their running mates well before they get nominated themselves.

Iowa's primaries were held yesterday, but all the major candidates had their prospective running mates chosen weeks ago. "It's very unusual this early," Tom Bredeweg, of the Iowa League of Cities, told me a couple of months back.

Both of the Democratic candidates running for governor in Maryland have already picked their running mates, even though their primary isn't until September.

Ernie Fletcher, the embattled governor of Kentucky, has already chosen his running mate. He's not running again until next year--but you can hardly blame him, since Lt. Gov. Steve Pence refuses either to run with him or resign.

It's no mystery why they pick the people they do. It's because of another political cliche: the quest for balance of some sort, whether based on geography, ideology, race or gender.

But it seems cocky to me, this kind of positioning months before the nomination is in hand. Anyone have any idea why gubernatorial hopefuls have become so trigger-happy about naming their No. 2?