Arizona voters have another chance to get a lieutenant governor

Sen. Sean Bowie/Arizona Capitol Television

By Camryn Sanchez | Arizona Capitol Times 

A pair of senators were successful this session at giving voters the opportunity to establish a lieutenant governor, after several attempts failed in the past 32 years.

That idea is known as a perennial because it pops up every few years. This year the measure was pushed as a bill and a corresponding resolution by a partnership of Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, and Sen. Sean Bowie, D-Phoenix.

If Prop 131 is approved by voters, it will not apply to the upcoming election, but will take effect in 2026 for the governor’s term starting in 2027, and the governor and lieutenant governor would run together on a joint ticket.

Under Arizona’s current system, if the governor leaves their position for any reason, including death, resignation, or indictment – as often happens in Arizona – then the secretary of state would serve out the rest of the term as acting governor. The secretary of state even takes over if the governor is traveling out of Arizona.

In the current administration this means that if Republican Gov. Doug Ducey were to resign, Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs would take control of the office, flipping party control. That happened in 2009 when Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano left her position for another job and Republican Jan Brewer took over. Before that, in 1988, Republican governor Evan Mecham was impeached after being convicted for obstruction of justice and misuse of government funds. He was later acquitted, but the secretary of state, Democrat Rose Mofford, became the acting governor.

Bowie said that this year is the best time to move the bill, because there’s an upcoming election and a clean slate in the voter’s minds.

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