Whitver OP-ED: Lt. Gov Appointment and Gubernatorial Line of Succession


By Senate President Jack Whitver

Kim Reynolds was sworn in Wednesday as the 43rd Governor of the great state of Iowa following Terry Branstad’s resignation to become the U.S. Ambassador to China.

Prior to Wednesday’s transition to the Governor Reynolds Administration, there were numerous stories reported about our new Governor’s ability to appoint her successor as lieutenant governor. It has been more than 40 years since a sitting governor in Iowa resigned the post. This fact has created significant speculation on whether the new governor would be able to appoint a lieutenant governor, especially after Attorney General Tom Miller offered two differing opinions on this matter.

When Governor Reynolds assumed office Wednesday, it should come with all the powers and duties of the office. Those duties include filling a vacancy, in this case the office of the lieutenant governor. The attorney general decided to put partisan politics into play by saying she did not have the authority to do so, which created confusion and uncertainty. The Attorney General opinion states Governor Reynolds would hold both offices, which is prohibited and defies common sense.

Under the Attorney General’s opinion and Governor Reynolds decision to appoint an acting Lieutenant Governor, the President of the Senate becomes first in the line of succession to Governor. As the current Senate President, I believe Iowans deserve clarity on this issue. It is important we address a Governor’s ability to appoint a lieutenant governor in situations such as these to avoid confusion in the future. As the person most affected by this decision, I plan to offer a constitutional amendment to provide clarity should this situation arise in the future. While the amendment process takes several years, I believe we can get the process started when the Legislature returns in January.