Thursday, September 8, 2011

GAB seeks clarification for recall of governor, lieutenant governor

Recalls should require two petitions, one for each office

The Government Accountability Board is seeking an opinion from the office of the State Attorney General regarding the outcome of a potential gubernatorial recall. At issue is whether such a recall would remove the lieutenant governor as well, or if that officeholder would stay in place if the governor himself were to be successfully voted out.

For Democrats, the hope is that one recall petition/election would remove both Gov. Scott Walker and Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. If the opinion is otherwise, it means that two recall petitions -- and possibly two separate elections -- would be necessary to remove both Walker and Kleefisch.

Is that fair? Both the governor and lieutenant governor are elected within the same ticket (similar to the president and vice president), so it's reasonable to argue that both should be removed if the governor gets recalled.

But this is one instance where I must disagree with the Democrats, not because I want Kleefisch to stay in power, but because of a matter of principle. Even though this goes against my best interests, it's my belief that the lieutenant governor must be recalled separate from the governor.

Remove the politicians from the offices in question for a moment. The two are separate offices, separate people with separate responsibilities that are both subject to recall. Even though they are elected together, they perform different tasks within the executive branch of government.

If you still disagree, consider a different situation: suppose we were ONLY trying to recall the LIEUTENANT governor, not the governor himself. If that were the case, would we argue that both have to be recalled in order to remove the undesired lieutenant governor? That wouldn't make much sense -- and neither does removing the lieutenant governor in cases of gubernatorial recalls.

We could have a lieutenant governor that people felt was doing a great job, in spite of the governor's problems. People may wish to keep that person in office, while at the same time removing the governor. To preserve that possibility for the future, it's imperative that we recognize that the two should not be recalled as one. (With that said, I wholeheartedly support a Rebecca Kleefisch recall, too.)

We cannot tie two officeholders to one recall petition, and yet separate them in a scenario that is entirely different. Either they're together or they're not; and my rationale above shows that there could come a time when constituents would want to keep one and not the other.

Despite my wish to remove both Walker and Kleefisch simultaneously, recalls of both the governor and the lieutenant governor should require two separate petitions.

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