What does the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts do? Former No.2 Jane Swift steps in | Local News


PITTSFIELD – The last time a Berkshire County resident was elected lieutenant governor, she spent almost half of her term as governor.

Jane Swift won a four-year term as lieutenant governor on the 1998 Republican ticket, but then-Gov. Paul Cellucci resigned in April 2001, giving Swift executive powers until January 2003. The lieutenant governor takes over whenever the governor moves out of state or, in Cellucci’s case, leaves the office entirely. office.

The constitution of the state describes some tasks for the post of second in command beyond, with the exception of chairing meetings of the eight-member Board of Governors.

“It’s a huge job, but it’s a management, leadership and communication job, so I think it actually makes sense to approach it that way,” Swift told The Eagle on Wednesday. . “The role of the lieutenant governor, in terms of issues and impact, includes very little statutory and constitutional authority. “

State Senator Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, announced his campaign for the post of lieutenant governor on Wednesday. If Hinds were to win the post, he would become the first Berkshire County resident to hold the post since Swift, a North Adams native who represented the Berkshires in the Senate from 1991 to 1997.

The lieutenant governor is often seen as a springboard to a possible candidacy for governor, although electoral success was mixed.

The key to the role, Swift said, is to maintain communication with elected officials statewide and to work with the governor to incorporate contributions from local and regional officials. As lieutenant governor, Swift held more than 100 meetings with “education actors across the state,” she said, to implement a major 1993 law.

Former North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright worked with two lieutenant governors from 2010 to 2017. He said he found Tim Murray, who served under former Governor Deval Patrick, and Karyn Polito, l current Lieutenant Governor under Governor Charlie Baker, to be accessible. The lieutenant governor acts as “the governor’s keeper for towns and villages,” said Alcombright, who supports the Hinds campaign.

“I said [Hinds], from my point of view, it is extremely important that he keeps this part of the job for the 351 towns and villages, ”Alcombright said.

For most residents, however, lieutenant governors may have little visibility until they spend time in the role of governor.

“If Governor Baker is going on vacation, if he’s going to New Hampshire for a meeting with the governor.” [Chris] Sununu, if there is a restaurant he really loves in Providence that he goes down there for dinner, if he goes to Pittsfield and decides to shoot it [Route] 22, technically at this time [Lt. Gov.] Karyn Polito is the governor, ”Swift said. “Any power the governor has, she has.”

When Swift was acting governor from 2001 to 2003, she remained lieutenant governor and did not have a separate lieutenant governor by her side. Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin, a Democrat many believed intended to run for governor, became second in line. Whenever Swift left the state, Galvin would have had the powers of the governor, including the ability to sign or veto legislation passed by the legislature.

“I rarely left the state, and when I did, we had to be really careful,” Swift said. “Usually we would negotiate more with the legislature so that the bills don’t come to my office. [while out of the state]. “

Cellucci is the only lieutenant governor of Massachusetts to win an election for governor since Francis Sargent won a term in 1970. Cellucci, the lieutenant governor from 1991 to 1999, took over as governor after the governor’s resignation William Weld in 1997. Cellucci won the 1998 election for governor.

Swift initially announced in October 2001 that she would pursue a full term as governor, but called off the race six months before the 2002 election. Mitt Romney, who had edged out Swift, ultimately won the governor’s office.

Romney’s lieutenant governor Kerry Healey ran for governor in 2006 but lost to Patrick.

Serving as lieutenant governor, Swift said, provides invaluable experience for those assuming the role of governor, although it doesn’t necessarily mean electoral advantage. Swift referred to New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was a little-known lieutenant governor before she takes over top post following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation. A recent poll shows an approval / disapproval ratio of 49% to 31% for Hochul. In another poll, she is two digits ahead of the next potential gubernatorial candidate.

“It remains to be seen if she will manage to run for a full term,” Swift said, “but I think a lot of people are confident that she was ready to do the job because she had spent a lot of time in it. travel across the state in the role of lieutenant governor, meet elected officials and understand the issues.


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