Lieutenant governors not known for clout

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By Sherry Robinson

Here’s a little quiz: Name the five lieutenant governors before Diane Denish.

If you can recall Walter Bradley, Casey Luna, Jack Stahl, Mike Runnels and Roberto Mondragon, you get a gold star.

If you drew a blank, welcome to the club. The fact that none of them went on to higher office and some disappeared from the political radar tells you something about the office.

The lieutenant governor has so little clout, the position is almost honorary. Their only responsibilities have been to take the wheel when the governor is out of state and to preside over the Senate.

Bradley, as second fiddle to Gov. Gary Johnson, attended a great number of award ceremonies and ribbon cuttings, but he did sit in the big chair frequently when the boss was off competing in athletic events.

Mondragon, who served Gov. Bruce King twice as lieutenant governor, was memorable for serenading the Senate chamber with “Las Mañanitas” on birthdays.

Casey Luna made himself an example of how not to be a lieutenant governor. Rabid in his desire to be governor, he was such a loose cannon that King was reluctant to leave him in charge when he had to be out of state. The unkindest cut was a nasty campaign against King in 1994 that turned voters off and helped hand the race to Gary Johnson, a political unknown.

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