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Friday, December 19, 2014, 9:13 a.m.
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Lawmakers support keeping lieutenant governor's office open

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 13, 2014 at 1:48 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — With Arkansas Lt. Gov. Mark Darr stepping down next month over ethics violations, legislative leaders say there's growing support to change the law to keep his office vacant and avoid a special election to fill the post for just a few months.

Gov. Mike Beebe said Monday that he was still researching whether the law requires him to call a special election to fill the vacancy for Darr, a Republican who announced Friday he would step down Feb. 1. Beebe said he was also researching whether Darr had actually resigned since he hadn't submitted a formal letter to the governor's office.

Legislative leaders are gauging support for changing the law during next month's legislative session to give Beebe the ability to not call a special election.

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RBBrittain says... January 13, 2014 at 7:47 p.m.

I have a better idea that does NOT change current law: If the Democratic & Republican parties both agree to select their nominees for the vacancy by convention instead of primary (the Green & Libertarian parties always nominate by convention), the special election could be held concurrently with the May primaries; that fills the vacancy *without* an additional election with high cost and low turnout. (Holding a "special election" concurrently with the primaries IS allowed by state law; in fact it works much like the non-partisan judicial elections, also held with the primaries in May though legally separate.)
Though the office of Lieutenant Governor is one of the few offices in Arkansas above municipal level where the legislature actually has discretion to decide how vacancies are to be filled (it's specifically exempt from Amendment 29's rules on gubernatorial appointments), the history of that office makes it clear that it exists so there will almost ALWAYS be a popularly elected replacement for the Governor if (God forbid) he/she dies or is otherwise incapacitated. It was added by constitutional amendment when Joe T. Robinson was elevated to the U.S. Senate (the very last one elected by the legislature of ANY state before the 17th Amendment made them popularly elected) shortly after being elected Governor, leading to a dispute over the Governor's office between rival Senate presidents (at that time they weren't "pro tem") after the legislative session that had to be resolved by the state Supreme Court.
Michael Lamoureux may have been elected to the Senate by his district AND chosen by his fellow senators to serve as president pro tem, but he was *NOT* elected by *ALL* Arkansans to step in as Governor for up to 11-1/2 months if anything were to happen to Gov. Beebe. In my opinion, the vacancy *SHOULD* be filled if at all possible, even if it's for less than a year. It doesn't matter if the new LtGov is a Democrat, Republican or otherwise; what matters is the PEOPLE chose him/her.

( | suggest removal )

Kathy5 says... January 13, 2014 at 10:29 p.m.

I'm hoping the LG vacancy remains open until the next election.

( | suggest removal )

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