HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Calling it dysfunction on the second floor of the Capitol, state Sen. Dave Argall (R-Berks/Schuylkill) is proposing a constitutional amendment to change how Pennsylvanians elect their lieutenant governors.
“Let’s be honest. This is embarrassing,” Argall said Tuesday morning, referring to the publicly icy relationship between Gov. Tom Wolf and Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
“This is not how the top two members of the executive branch should operate to get things done for the people of Pennsylvania,” he said.
Argall wants to change the constitution so gubernatorial candidates pick their running mates, like presidents do on the federal level, instead of the current system where governors and lieutenant governors run independently in primaries and are then forced together in the general election.
“It would make sure they’re on the same team and it’s not just a shotgun marriage,” Argall said.
Rare are the sightings of Wolf and Stack in the same room at the same time. They’ve mostly avoided each other. Wolf recently removed round-the-clock protection and staff at the lieutenant governor’s residence after accusations that Stack and his wife were abusive to employees. The Office of Inspector General investigated the allegations and, sources tell abc27, has completed its report. It’s unclear if Wolf will release it publicly.
Thirteen states including Pennsylvania neighbors Maryland, Ohio, and New Jersey let their governors choose their running mates.
It’s just common sense, according to Sen. John DiSanto (R-Dauphin/Perry).
“Pennsylvania has serious problems and if we have the two top executives not working together, it’s just not helpful for the citizens,” he said.
Constitutional amendments don’t happen quickly. They require passage in the House and Senate in two consecutive sessions and then the question is put on the ballot for voters. It couldn’t be done in time to affect next year’s gubernatorial race.
Sen. Mike Folmer (R-Lebanon) is a supporter.
“I like constitutional amendments because ‘we the people’ get to decide on that as we go forward,” he said.
Interestingly, the Republican who wants to change the way lieutenant governors are elected is rumored to be mulling a run for lieutenant governor.
We asked Argall if that’s true.
“If you walked up and down the hallways of the Capitol, I suspect you’d probably get the same answer from my colleagues saying, ‘yeah, under the right conditions.’ That’s a discussion for another day,” he said.
We reached out to Wolf and Stack for reaction. Wolf’s office said the governor is focused on getting a fair budget done. Stack’s spokesman said the lieutenant governor would support whatever the people decide.