What does the lieutenant governor of California do?

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — First things first: Everything you vote for matters.

Your local city council, school board races, state and county bylaws have a prominent and visible effect on your daily life.

State and local county offices and the roles of their officers can have very high visibility throughout the state, your city, and sometimes the entire country if they are actively seeking (or quietly considering) higher office. You will also see many, many ads for those offices and measures.

California’s lieutenant governor is just one of those offices that may not be highly visible, but it carries important state constitutional responsibilities.

California has had 50 lieutenant governors since 1849. The current deputy governor, Eleni Kounalakis, is the first woman to hold the position.

In general, you can think of the lieutenant governor as the vice president, but in California, gubernatorial candidates do not run against lieutenant governor candidates on the same ticket. Offices are voted on separately and it is possible to have a governor and deputy governor from different political parties.

In recent history, Republican governors George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger have had Democratic lieutenant governors. Republican Abel Maldonado served as lieutenant governor from late April 2010 to January 2011 when Jerry Brown was governor.

Under the California Constitution, the lieutenant governor is one of eight constitutionally elected statewide officers. Anyone elected as lieutenant governor can serve a maximum of two four-year terms.

And in the event of a vacancy, the lieutenant governor then serves as acting governor. The state constitution says the lieutenant governor serves when the governor is out of state, has a “temporary disability” or is impeached.

The lieutenant governor also serves as president of the California Senate and casts a tie vote in that chamber.

The lieutenant governor also has a policy implementation role on several boards.

The lieutenant governors are voting members of the state university and college boards — the University of California Board of Trustees, the California State University Board of Trustees, and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

The lieutenant governor, who rotates with the state comptroller, is also chairman of the three-member state land commission that governs California and oversees the control and leasing of 4 million acres of state land. This includes licensing or leasing land for offshore oil exploitation and the country’s waterways.

In some cases, the position of lieutenant governor can be a stepping stone to higher office. Ten lieutenant governors then became governor of California. Gavin Newsom is the latest to do so.

This year, voters will choose between incumbent Gov. Eleni Kounalakis (D) and Republican Angela E. Underwood Jacobs.

Kounalakis was the first woman elected lieutenant governor of California in 2018, and previously served as the US ambassador to Hungary in the Obama administration. Kounalakis had already briefly served as acting governor when Gov. Gavin Newsom traveled out of state and became the first woman to sign the bill.

Jacobs previously served as a city council member and deputy mayor of Lancaster. She also has years of experience in the banking industry, and calls herself a community banker helping people live the “California Dream.” on her website.

The Latest

To Top