Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Does Florida Need No. 2?

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Does Florida Need No. 2?

Article excerpt

Relevancy of lieutenant governor in question

Florida once went 80 years without a lieutenant governor.

OK, that eight-decade span occurred between 1889 and 1969 -- not exactly the modern era of state government.

(The position, which included the duty of presiding Senate officer, was abolished with the adoption of the 1885 state constitution; it was re-established in 1969, without the Senate role, after the constitution was revised by voters.)

It's no surprise that the state has survived the past nine months without someone -- anyone -- in that position. That's because the lieutenant governor is not assigned specific tasks under the state constitution or under Florida law -- and the office has often been perceived as a place where political careers are ended.

The last person to be lieutenant governor was Jennifer Carroll, who was on the same ticket as Rick Scott when he was narrowly elected governor in 2010.

Carroll resigned in March, at Scott's urging, after it was publicly reported that she had previously done public relations consulting for Allied Veterans of the World. That organization was accused of illegally operating so-called Internet gambling parlors while acting as a veterans charity.

The post has been vacant since, saving the state about three- quarters of the $500,000 annual cost of the office's budget and giving Scott more time to save face over the embarrassment of Carroll's departure.

The lack of an appointment calls into question whether Florida needs -- or benefits from -- a lieutenant governor. The state constitution specifies in Article IV, Section 2, that: "There shall be a lieutenant governor, who shall perform such duties pertaining to the office of governor as shall be assigned by the governor, except when otherwise provided by law, and such other duties as may be prescribed by law."

Some governors in recent history have relied on their lieutenants to effectively spearhead important projects or even temporarily lead state agencies: Frank Brogan, who served Jeb Bush, and Buddy MacKay, Lawton Chiles' running mate, come to mind. …

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