Common Cause Massachusetts 2015 Testimony on Gov. Succession Rules

Posted on April 28, 2015

Testimony in Support of H. 573

Governor - Lieutenant Governor Succession

Pamela H. Wilmot, Executive Director Common Cause Massachusetts

Joint Committee on Election Laws

April 28, 2015

Massachusetts has had the unfortunate experience of having two relatively recent Governors depart office mid-term.  The bill before you clarifies lines of authority and provides for an orderly succession for the Lieutenant Governor to become Governor (no more acting—the real thing) and for the appointment of a new Lieutenant Governor.  It provides predictability and clarity to the process, both hallmarks of good government. 

Moreover, we support the ability of a new Governor to appoint a successor Lt. Governor.  Although this is contrary to our usual support of direct elections, in this instance practical considerations of executive functioning are more important.  When the Governor and Lt. Governor do not share trust and common aims, as sometimes happens in other states where they are elected separately, the Governor is held hostage to the state, refusing to leave lest the Lt. Governor remand orders, access documents, and otherwise cause mischief.  That is no way to run a government.

Although there is a very slim possibility that the appointed Lt. Governor might hold the Governorship very briefly, this level of succession has never been reached in the history of the Commonwealth.

Office: Common Cause Massachusetts

Issues: Voting and Elections

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