Pennsylvania Legislature passes constitutional amendment to end primaries for lieutenant governor

The Pennsylvania State Legislature approved a constitutional amendment that would change how candidates for lieutenant governor are selected.

In Pennsylvania, a political party’s candidates for governor and lieutenant governor are elected on a joint ticket at the general election. As of 2020, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries for their party’s nomination and then form a joint ticket.

The constitutional amendment would allow a political party’s candidate for governor to choose their own candidate for lieutenant governor. The ballot measure would provide that political parties may approve or reject their gubernatorial candidate’s pick for lieutenant governor. The system would look similar to how a presidential candidate selects their running mate.

Because the Pennsylvania Constitution requires the legislature to approve an amendment during two successive legislative sessions, the legislature will need to adopt the amendment again during the 2021-2022 legislative session for it to appear on the ballot. If it appears on the ballot in 2021, it could be in effect for the 2022 gubernatorial election.

The constitutional amendment passed the state Senate on January 28, 2020, in a vote of 46-3. In the state House, legislative Democrats were more divided. While 105 of 110 House Republicans supported the amendment, 25 of 92 House Democrats did so. A simple majority vote was required in each chamber.

The current Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania is John Fetterman (D), who defeated incumbent Mike Stack (D) in the 2018 primary election. The Pennsylvania Governor is Tom Wolf, who is term-limited from running at the next gubernatorial election in 2022.

Pennsylvania is one of eight states in which the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary but runs on a single ticket with the gubernatorial nominee in general election.

The ballot measure would make Pennsylvania the 11th state in which the lieutenant governor is chosen by the gubernatorial nominee after the primary and runs on a single ticket with the gubernatorial nominee in the general election.

Pennsylvanians haven’t rejected a constitutional amendment referred by the legislature since 1981. Since then, voters have approved 26 constitutional amendments.

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About the author

Ryan Byrne

Ryan Byrne is a staff writer at Ballotpedia and can be reached at ryan.byrne@ballotpedia.org

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