Change the way lieutenant governors are elected in Missouri
The Kansas City Star
The candidates running for lieutenant governor in Missouri both say the job is largely ceremonial and needs more responsibilities.
That’s an easy one. Missouri needs a constitutional change that would have the governor and lieutenant governor run as a ticket. That way the lieutenant governor could act as an ambassador for the governor’s agenda.
It works that way in Kansas. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback has put his hand-picked lieutenant in charge of overhauling the state’s Medicaid program. A lot of people don’t especially like what Jeff Colyer has come up with, but there’s no doubts about his productivity. In Missouri, Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon would sooner skip a ribbon-cutting in Potosi than assign Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder to anything of significance. That rift has left Kinder at loose ends these four years, free to stir up trouble and wander into it.
Money being no object in Missouri politics, a lot of it is being spent on what is essentially a place-holding job. A handful of donors gave GOP state Sen. Brad Lager more than $1.5 million to unseat Kinder, who is running for a third term. Lager lost the primary, and Kinder now faces former Democratic state Auditor Susan Montee.
That’s a lot of expense and trouble for a job that in recent years hasn’t even been a stepping stone to the governor’s office. The last three governors have graduated from the attorney general’s office (Nixon), the secretary of state’s office (Matt Blunt) and the treasurer’s office (Bob Holden). You have to go all the way back to Mel Carnahan to find a governor who moved up from the lieutenant governor’s job, and that was 20 years ago, in 1992.
Missouri pays its lieutenant governor upwards of $86,400, and the office has a budget of nearly a half a million dollars. That’s a lot of taxpayer money to spend on a ceremonial post. The governor and second-in-command should run as a team.