Prop 131 would change the line of succession to the governor’s seat

Oct 4, 2022, 4:45 AM | Updated: Oct 10, 2022, 11:36 am
(Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman/Creative Commons)...
(Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman/Creative Commons)
(Photo by Erik (HASH)

PHOENIX — Whether at the voting polls or ballot box, voters will see 10 statewide ballot initiatives, including a potential change to the line of succession for the governor’s seat. 

Proposition 131 would amend the state’s constitution by creating a position for lieutenant governor. Currently, if the governor can’t fulfill their duties temporarily or permanently, the secretary of state assumes the position.

If the measure is passed, the lieutenant governor would assume the role starting in 2026. 

Proponents of the measure feel there’s been too much turnover in the governor’s office and not enough continuity, while opponents feel the position would be a waste of money and could lead to corruption. 

Arizona Sen. J.D. Mesnard sponsored the constitutional amendment proposal, which made the ballot after passing in the House and Senate with bipartisan support. He explained the two politicians would run on a joint ticket similar to the president and vice president of the United States. 

“We’ve had a high propensity of governors to leave office … it’s happened so many times in the last 40ish years that we had not, prior to the current governor, had a governor serve out a full eight years in decades,” Mesnard said. 

The amendment will require the lieutenant governor to hold another position in the executive office throughout their term. 

 ”The governor appoints the lieutenant governor to a role that already exists in the government, and it outlines that as being the chief of staff, or the department of administration director … but it does allow the governor flexibility to move the lieutenant governor to a different spot,” Mesnard noted. 

Democratic Sen. Sean Bowie cosponsored the proposition and believes now is the right time to implement the change since the governor and secretary of state positions are up for election. 

“There is more continuity in terms of who takes over, it’s not someone from a different party or someone who has totally different political beliefs,” Bowie said. 

This isn’t the first time Arizona voters have seen a lieutenant governor on the ballot. Similar measures were voted down in 1994 and 2010. 

“The last time this was on the ballot of 2010 and what that would have done is it would have replaced the secretary of states office with the lieutenant governor’s office,” Bowie said he opposed that version of the measure. 

While no formal opposition was filed through the secretary of state’s office, Civic Engagement Beyond Voting (CEBV), a grassroots nonpartisan organization, opposes the measure. 

The organization’s ballot guide encourages Arizonans to vote no on Prop 131, stating the measure spends taxpayer money on something voters don’t want. 

“Part of the reason this failed so many times is that some Republicans consider it an epic waste of money which ‘bloats government’ for no reason,” the CEBV guide says.

CEBV also points out its concerns over the appointment process since the governor could appoint the lieutenant governor to a position within the executive office, like chief of staff. 

“That to us seems like a clear recipe for cronyism and corruption. The governor’s chief of staff is an unelected political operative. This person has a huge amount of power behind the scenes and ultimately answers to nobody but the governor,” said Melinda Iyer, co-founder of CEBV.  

Iyer says the organization feels this is a politically motivated move and that lawmakers aren’t listening to the voters since similar measures were already voted down.  

“They’ve had the keys to the castle for decades, and they’ve been pushing this bill for a long time. Only now that we have a Democratic secretary of state do we see this Republican lead bill actually getting through to the ballot,” Iyer said.

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Prop 131 would change the line of succession to the governor’s seat