Rutgers Logo Rutgers University
Eagleton Institute of Politics
Eagleton Institute of Politics


New Jersey Gubernatorial Succession Discussion:
Some Resources

67th Session of the Rutgers’ New Jersey Public Policy Seminar on October 20, 2004 focused on "The Gubernatorial Succession Issue Returns: How Did New Jersey Get the Current Acting Governor Arrangement and What Are the Possible Alternatives?"

Presenters:  Robert F. Williams, professor and state constitutional law expert, Rutgers School of Law-Camden; Ingrid Reed, director, New Jersey Project, Eagleton Institute of Politics

For the second time in less than four years, New Jersey will have an acting governor, a position mandated under the state constitution that requires the Senate president to serve a dual role. Reed and Williams will discuss how the current succession practice was incorporated in the 1947 constitution, methods other states have employed to ensure a smooth succession, options to consider should change be advocated for New Jersey and the procedure for amending the constitution, if a change is proposed.

The Seminar
Professor Williams noted that current succession policy incorporated in the 1947 New Jersey Constitution was a carry over from the mid-19th Century constitution that provided for a strong legislature and a weak governor and an alternative succession policy was never examined by the constitutional convention. Williams also pointed out that New Jersey has an opportunity to learn from other states, especially those who recently have re-examined succession issues.

In order to consider alternatives to current acting governor arrangement, Ms Reed presented a chart for examining the issues that arise when crafting a new succession policy. Click here to see the chart.

Reed pointed out that the bills recently introduced in the General Assembly all assume that critical element in a change are separation of powers, a lieutenant governor of the same party and an elected lieutenant governor rather than an appointed one.

Discussion Resources
Chart For Assessing Alernatives to Gubernatorial Succession
Star-Ledger/Eagleton-Rutgers Polls with questions about Succession
     -  “ Five Governors in One Week” (Release 136-6) March 22, 2002
   -   “ McGreevey, We Hardly Knew You” (Release 148-3) September 13, 2004
“Succession to the Office of Governor and Separation of Powers: The Unfinished Business of the 1947 Constitution” (.pdf file)

A paper on the historical background of current policy, by Michael L. Ticktin, Rutgers Law Journal, Summer, 1998.
New Jersey Policy Perspective Report on Gubernatorial Succession
  The People Should Choose Who Fills the Shoes
by Jon Shure, president, New Jersey Policy Perspective
  Discussion on gubernatorial succession in New Jersey and the choices for making a change, including the issue of adding a lieutenant governor.
Information from National Lieutenant Governors Association about the role of Lieutenant Governors
      The National Lieutenant Governors Association (NLGA), organized in 1962, is the professional association for the elected officials who are next in line of succession to the governors in the 50 states and five territorial jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
      In 42 states and four territories this elected official bears the title of lieutenant governor. In three states and one territory this official is the secretary of state. In four states, the president of the senate is next in line of succession to the governor. Should a vacancy occur, the state’s constitutional provision dictates who is the next in line of succession and this official represents the state as a NLGA member.
      NLGA provides members the opportunity for networking, meeting, fostering interstate cooperation, and promoting the effectiveness of the Office of Lieutenant Governor.
      NLGA may adopt resolutions on subjects of importance to the membership, of national importance generally and in support of or opposition to action taken by other groups of state officials or the federal government. Resolutions are considered for adoption during the Annual Meeting.
      NLGA was organized under the title the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors (NCLG) and changed its name in July 2002.

     Visit the NLGA web site

Lieutenant Governors in the 50 States. The Book of the States 2004
Volume 36, published by the Council State Governments

    This includes a section on Lieutenant Governors written by Julia Nienaber Hurst, executive director of the National Lieutenant Governors Association. See pages 187-192. Seven states that do not have a lieutenant governor – Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Tennessee and Wyoming. In Arizona and Oregon, the Secretary of State is the lieutenant governor while in the other five states, the Senate President or Speaker is next line of succession.

      Given the tie in the New Jersey State Senate in 2002, it is interesting to note that 30 lieutenant governors preside over their state senates. More than half of them break tie votes.
State Administrative Officials
  As discussion focuses on an elected lieutenant governor, questions have arisen about other state-wide elected officials. The Council of State Governments has made available to Eagleton the Excel spread sheet describing selected state administrative officials and their method of selection. This table (linked above) can also be found in The Book of the States, 2004, Volume 36, pages 175-180.
Succession materials developed by the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission
  Professor Robert Williams of Rutgers Law School Camden has been contact with officials in Utah assessing what its state’s succession policy should be and whether revisions are necessary. Documents provided by the Revision Commission are:  
  Gubernatorial Succession Provisions of the Constitutions of the 50 States

Gubernatorial Succession and the Utah Constitution

  Memorandum on Cases addressing Gubernatorial Succession