Open line | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Open line

Posted By on Sun, Jul 16, 2006 at 5:43 PM

With Warwick heading into vacation and me about to board a plane, I hope, there's nothing to it tonight but to leave this open line for the evening. I hope to be back at full speed tomorrow morning.

The news of the day in Arkansas remains the death of Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller. His passing will be the occasion for many memorials and appropriate ceremony. But practical political considerations nonetheless attend the death of any constitutional officer. As we wrote earlier, this position can only be filled by special election. The governor would call such an election, but is under no statutory time schedule to act. He could act after hearing the wishes of the major political parties (primary or nominating convention), but any election would have to provide time for an independent petition campaign. The governor, properly, is avoiding questions on the issue today.

I'd be surprised if there's a call from any quarter for a special election to fill the seat for a period that, once the various required steps were taken, could be only weeks. It seems to me that the Constitution provides for ample stand-ins for an absent governor in the Senate president pro tem, Jim Argue, and House Speaker Bill Stovall. No session of the legislature is scheduled or likely the remainder of the year, and presiding over the Senate is the lieutenant governor's primary office funciton.

Leaving the office vacant for the remainder of the term, a time in which the lieutenant governor's personal staff could come to an orderly conclusion of their boss's work, strikes me as an efficient and frugal course and the least distracting.

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