What’s with the Wisconsin lieutenant governor race this year?

Assembly Majority Leader Tom Nelson is doing a media market tour today to announce his candidacy for lieutenant governor.  I’ve lost track of how many people are running, but I think there about four on the Dem side and four on the GOP side now.  That’s a lot of action for a position that doesn’t necessarily have a lot going for it in terms of authority. 

Lieutenant governor is a very strange race.  In the September partisan primaries, voters directly select the parties’ candidates.  That candidate then becomes part of the gubernatorial ticket, just like the Vice President of the United States does in the general election.  In that sense, the state process in Wisconsin is a little more direct than the federal system for veep, but the fact is that nobody goes to the polls in November thinking about the lieutenant governor. 

Actually, that might be an exaggeration.  There are probably family members and I suppose there is also the opportunity for something Palin-esque to enter into the picture, too.  But unlike a Presidential race, you can’t even blame the guv candidate for the lieutenant governor name on the ticket.   In some states, where the lieutenant governor is directly elected, it is possible to have the governor and lieutenant governor come from different parties.  (Now THAT sounds like fun, doesn’t it?)

I’ve always liked Tom Nelson and I’m sure he’d make a fine lieutenant governor — but it’s nothing like being majority leader of the Assembly.  On the other hand, the assistant majority leader right now is Donna Seidel — someone that Nelson joked to me was “dancing on his grave” this morning.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but it does raise some obvious and interesting possibilities when the dust clears in November.

JR

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