Last week, Florida’s former lieutenant governor Jeff Kottkamp penned an column for Context Florida describing the historic importance of the state’s number two executive. And on Tuesday, former lieutenant governor Frank Brogan did the same in an interview with Tia Mitchell of the Tampa Bay Times.
Kottkamp wrote that the six-month vacancy in Florida’s office of lieutenant governor has raised the question of whether the state needs the role at all.
This isn’t the first time folks have wondered the same. Kottkamp reflected that Florida’s LG had been eliminated once before, during the Constitutional Convention of 1885.
Sixty years later, Gov. Dan McCarty suffered a heart attack only weeks after taking office. The governor’s death led to political turmoil and ultimately, to the appointment of Senate President Charley Johns as governor — but Johns’ claim to office was challenged and the Supreme Court ruled that he was only “Acting Governor” until an election could be held. In 1965, the Legislature recommended and the voters approved restoring the lieutenant governor post.
To Kottkamp, having an LG “calms the political waters in the event of a vacancy” and serves to “place someone in office that is not only from the same administration as the governor, but was actually elected by the people of Florida.”
Brogan’s take was from another angle.
To Brogan, Florida’s size and nature necessitates having both a governor and a lieutenant governor at the helm.
“Any governor who sits in that office today needs a partner in a state this large, this complicated, fraught with all of the challenges that we have,” Brogan said in his Times interview.
Brogan’s perspective is no doubt painted by the unprecedented level of partnership that he shared with Gov. Jeb Bush. But in context, Kottkamp is a stellar example of what Brogan described.
As LG, Kottkamp chaired or oversaw activities of Space Florida, the Children and Youth Cabinet, the Florida Sports Foundation, the Governor’s Office of Drug Control, the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and the Governor’s Film and Entertainment Office.
While Kottkamp’s column described the importance of the LG for purposes of succession, his own time in the office was hardly one of sitting in wait.