Uniquely Rhode Island ~ Lieutenant Governor's Race

Tomorrow is Election Day, and Rhode Islanders will be determining (among other offices) our next Lieutenant Governor. It's a curious race, because one of the candidates is running on the position of eliminating the office.

According to Robert Healey, Jr., Rhode Island doesn't need the office, and eliminating the Lieutenant Governorship would save the state $1 million per year. I saw his YouTube video for the first time today, which is what prompted this post:


Here's how the Rhode Island Constitution addresses the job:

"Article IV, Section 3: “When the governor-elect shall die, remove from the state, refuse to serve; become insane, or be otherwise incapacitated, the lieutenant governor-elect shall be qualified as governor at the beginning of the term for which the governor was elected.”
Article IX, Section 9: “Section 9. Vacancy in office of governor. -- If the office of the governor shall be vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment or inability to serve, the lieutenant governor shall shall fill the office of governor, and exercise the powers and authority appertaining thereto, until a governor is qualified to act, or until the office is filled at the next election."
According to Healey, this essentially means that the Lieutenant Governor has no function other than waiting for the Governor to leave office before his or her term is up.

I'm no constitutional scholar, but it appears it would take an amendment or revision of the Constitution to eliminate the office. There is a precedence for this. A quick scan of the full text of the Constitution shows that there have been three articles repealed since its ratification in 1987.*

There is a Constitutional provision in the absence of a lieutenant governor:
"Article IX, Section 10. Vacancies in both offices of governor and lieutenant governor. -- If the offices of governor and lieutenant governor be both vacant by reason of death, resignation, impeachment, or inability to serve, the speaker of the house of representatives shall in like manner fill the office of governor during such vacancy."
Until 2003, the lieutenant governor served as presiding officer of the state senate, however in 2003 the senate was empowered to elect its own presiding officer (Art. VIII, Sec. 1 and 2).


These are the three candidates for Lieutenant Governor in Rhode Island:
Robert Healey, Jr.
Robert Healey, Jr., Cool Moose party, candidate to be the last R.I. Lieutenant Governor (when I saw him at the Ancient & Horribles Parade in Chepachet)

Lt. Governor Roberts
Current R.I. Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth H. Roberts, Democratic candidate (when I saw her at the  Read Across Rhode Island brunch).

Robert P. Venturini, Hour with Bob party (photo via Projo)

*The first R.I. Constitution was ratified in November, 1842. In 1984, Rhode Island voters approved a referendum proposal to call a new Constitutional Convention, which was elected in November 1985 and convened in January 1986. On January 20, 1987, "the state's first new constitution in 144 years was officially entered into the state Archives".(Wikipedia)

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