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Our View: Let’s skip lieutenant selections

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Labor Day typically marks the unofficial end of summer, and the official kickoff to election season.

This year was no different. Since Monday, two Republican candidates for governor have announced their lieutenant governor picks: Sen. Kirk Dillard has chosen state Rep. Jil Tracy, and Treasurer Dan Rutherford selected Chicago attorney Steve Kim.

The two other Republican nominees, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner and state Sen. Bill Brady, and the two Democrats, Gov. Pat Quinn and Bill Daley, have said they’re in no rush to announce their picks.

It’s the first time gubernatorial candidates get to pick their running mates. State law was changed after the 2010 elections, when Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen dropped out after his past troubles, including domestic battery charges, were revealed after the won the primary.

We’re hoping this is the only election cycle where that happens – because if all goes well, in five years the office of lieutenant governor will have been eliminated.

The duties of the lieutenant governor aren’t impressive: The state’s constitution states the lieutenant governor “shall perform the duties and exercise the powers in the Executive Branch that may be delegated to him by the Governor and that may be prescribed by law.”

While the second-highest executive in the state, the lieutenant governor doesn’t do much – although he or she is first in line to succeed the governor, and, in this state, there are decent odds that could happen.

We aren’t in favor of spending money on an office that has no official duties. Neither is state Rep. David McSweeney, R-Barrington Hills, who has proposed a constitutional amendment that would abolish the lieutenant governor’s office beginning with the term of office otherwise commencing in 2019. McSweeney estimates $1.8 million can annually be saved by eliminating the office.

It passed the House this spring; if the Senate approves it, voters would consider it in 2014.

It’s an easy way to save the cash-strapped state some money while streamlining state government. We expect to see that on next year’s ballot.

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