Who Will Be the Next David Paterson?

Feb 13, 2008

The dramatic downfall of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) that catapulted David Paterson to the governor's mansion shined a spotlight on the succession of the state's second-in-command -- the lieutenant governor -- a position that eight states don't even have.

This year's statewide elections provide a snapshot of the quirky arrangements that determine who is next in line after the governor.

Eleven states elect governors this year, but only nine also select the No. 2 position. West Virginia and New Hampshire are the only two states this election cycle to have governors, but not lieutenant governors, on their ballots, because the position doesn't exist in those states.

Experts say it's too early to tell whether voters will pay more attention to lieutenant governors following the drama in New York that saw Spitzer resign in disgrace after a sex scandal, and replaced by fellow Democrat Paterson, who has shocked Albany with his disclosures of marital infidelity and illegal drug use in college.

"I think people will think twice who they are voting for," said David Winder, political science professor at Valdosta State University in Georgia, although he said the impact will be felt more acutely in states close to New York. He also predicted "some pressure" in those states without the position to look into creating it.

Read the full report Who Will Be the Next David Paterson? on Stateline.org's Web site.

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