2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Are Separately Elected Lieutenant Governors More Likely to Seek Other Statewide Offices?

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Jaclyn Kettler


A major difference across state governments is whether lieutenant governors run on a team or separate ticket as the governor. However, we lack research on the effects of this difference. Moreover, lieutenant governors are rarely studied at all, perhaps due to the perception that lieutenant governors generally have a minor role in state policymaking and governance. Despite their limited direct influence in many states, the lieutenant governor’s office may serve as an important pipeline for other elected offices, especially governorships. Lieutenant governors who run separately for their office will have more experience running their own campaign, providing more name recognition, an established campaign organization, and fundraising networks that are beneficial for seeking higher office (e.g., Desmarais, La Raja, and Kowal 2014). Consequently, they may have more interest in and resources for seeking to move up the political ladder (Francis and Kenny 2000).

How does the election process of lieutenant governors affect their future careers? Are lieutenant governors who are separately elected more likely to run for higher office? If so, are they more successful? How do other factors like the powers of their office, partisanship, geography, and gender further shape their career decisions? We expect lieutenant governors who are separately elected will have more progressive ambition and access to resources, making it more likely they will seek higher office.

To answer these questions, we are collecting biographic and political data on lieutenant governors holding office in the past two decades for all 45 states with lieutenant governor offices. This research will extend our knowledge of this rarely studied statewide office and the people holding this office. It will also help us better understand state political pipelines and how the election method of lieutenant governors affects their future careers.

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