Politics for Beginners: Lieutenant Governor

While profiling the candidates for all of Georgia’s 2018 elections, I’ve been embarrassed to discover that I have forgotten most of what I learned from my civics classes about the roles of different branches of government.  If this sounds like you, allow me to give you a politics refresher course.

First lesson, what is a lieutenant governor?

Essentially, a lieutenant governor is a vice-governor.  According to Wikipedia, they are the highest officer in a state after the governor.  They stand in when the governor is absent or incapacitated and take over if the governor dies, resigns, or gets kicked out of office.

Lieutenant governors are the only public officials with duties and powers in both the executive and legislative branches, and their roles vary widely.  The lieutenant governor has a heavy influence over state legislature and how their state’s spending priorities are decided upon.

In addition, they are also usually the President of their state’s Senate.  That means the lieutenant governor presides over all debate in the chamber and oversees any legislation that moves through it.  Now, they can’t vote or sponsor any legislation, but a lieutenant governor can work with advocates in the Senate to introduce legislation for them.

In brief, a lieutenant governor’s power does not come from their actual powers per se.  It comes from their influence, and influence on its own is a very powerful thing.

Georgia’s current lieutenant governor is Casey Cagle.  Cagle, however, is now running to be state governor and will need someone to replace him.  If you would like to choose a lieutenant governor to influence the Senate, the election will be held on November 6.

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