How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Thoughts on Guadagno

In 2006, by a 56.1% (838,134) to 43.9% (655,333) margin, New Jersey voters established the position of Lieutenant Governor to serve as a backup within the executive branch if the Governor was not able to serve for whatever reason. Prior to this, we were one of only eight states without a Lieutenant Governor.

Historically, the lack of another statewide elected official was one of the reasons New Jersey's governor was seen as omnipotent. Professor Alan Rosenthal of the Eagelton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University wrote that "the New Jersey governor has been referred to by George Wills as "an American Caesar," enjoying line-item and conditional vetoes and exploiting the appointment powers of the office to trade with the legislature on policy and budget matters."

Surprisingly prior to World War II, our Governor was one of the weakest in the nation. The Governor had only a three year term, his veto could be overturned by a simple legislative majority and he/she could only serve one term. The 1947 Constitutional Convention changed all that. It reigned in the power of the legislature and granted unsurpassed power to the Governor including the authority, for the first time, to veto and rewrite legislation; and most importantly appoint judges, county prosecutors and members of state boards and panels. In order for legislators to secure jobs they now had to play ball with the Governor. Former Governor Tom Kean made this point when he said, "There are thousands and thousands of appointments that come directly from the governor's office and no place else."

Back in 1947, it was thought by reformers that placing more power in the hands of the Governor would reduce the power of the political bosses. This has not, in fact, turned out to be the case, as political bosses continue, until this day, to play an enormous role in our state's politics. More specifically with regard to gubernatorial politics, the Democratic bosses cleared the field for Jon Corzine, sandbagged Barbara Buono and greased the skids for Phil Murphy.

Similarly, some of those who supported the creation of the Lieutenant Governor did so because they felt that it would mitigate somewhat the power of the bosses by providing additional stepping stones to higher state-wide office in New Jersey. The feeling was that providing additional springboard to statewide office would result in more electoral competition. There is a historical basis for this thinking since lieutenant governors in other states have become governor more frequently than any other local, state or federal office holder.

The impetus for creating the office of Lieutenant Governor was the bizarre concatenation of events which lead New Jersey in 2001 to having five governors in eight days, when Christie Todd Whitman resigned to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Our first Lieutenant Governor was Monmouth County Sheriff Kim Guadagno, who was elected along with Chris Christie in 2009 and re-elected in 2013.

Although it does appear that Kim Guadagno is the frontrunner to succeed Chris Christie as the Republican nominee next year. It is too early to tell whether the position will be a launching pad to the Governorship. What does appear to be the case is that the position has become an entry point for women to the higher echelons of our state's politics. In a time when government gridlock is all too often the norm, this is a positive development since many leadership studies have shown that woman tend to be less ego-driven and more team orientated than their male counterparts and more willing to forge consensus.

Although it has not as yet happened, over the years there has been much speculation about a well-known African-American elected official being tabbed for lieutenant governor. Jill Capuzzo fifteen years ago in a New York Times article on whether New Jersey was ready for Black Governor wrote: "One of the biggest obstacles is simply gaining access to the voters; since New Jersey's political structure offers few opportunities for statewide exposure. While most states have several elective state offices, New Jersey is one of four states where the governor is the only elected official. Elsewhere, positions like lieutenant governor, attorney general and state comptroller are usually seen as good places for minority candidates to showcase their abilities and build voter confidence on the state level. In that article State Senator Shirley Turner said, "Having a minority as a lieutenant governor gives the ticket a balance and people become used to. So when the governor leaves office, they're comfortable voting for you and don't feel they're taking as much of a risk as with an unknown."

It would be a positive development if creating the office of the Lieutenant Governor could provide an entry point for females; African-Americans, Asians, Indians and Latinos to enter statewide politics. The key is selecting individuals who possess the intelligence, the experience and the grasp of the issues needed to step-in and serve as one of the most powerful elected chief executives in the nation. For this reason, voters should be informed regarding the qualifications of candidates for Lieutenant Governor and gubernatorial candidates should vigorously vet individuals they select to serve as our state's second-in-command.