Commentary: Governor deserves a real lieutenant

Sen. Abel Maldonado, the governor's choice to serve as lieutenant governor, faces a tough confirmation battle. That makes it a good time to seriously reconsider the nonsensical way we select the state's governor-in-waiting, and fix it for good.

Article V, Section 11 of the California Constitution states that the "lieutenant governor … shall be elected at the same time and place as the governor."

That means, unlike the president and vice president, California's lieutenant governor is not selected by the governor. The lieutenant governor does not run for election in tandem with the governor.

The two don't even have to be from the same party and frequently are not.

The total disconnect between California's governor and lieutenant governor leaves fertile ground for mischief because California's constitution also states that "the lieutenant governor shall act as governor during the impeachment, absence from the state or other temporary disability of the governor."

That provision may have made sense in 1849 when the constitution was written, jet planes didn't exist and governors didn't leave the state very often. But governors travel a lot these days, out of state and out of country. It comes with the job.

While it's been rare, some modern lieutenant governors have taken advantage of a governor's absence to put forward their own, often contrarian agendas. The most well known example was Mike Curb, a Republican who served as lieutenant governor when Jerry Brown, a Democrat, was governor.

During Brown's frequent absences, Curb used the opportunity to make gubernatorial appointments that Brown opposed.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Sacramento Bee.