House tears up 'ticket' election idea

Posted April 22, 2015 5:09 p.m. EDT
Updated April 22, 2015 5:15 p.m. EDT

— The state House on Wednesday voted down a proposal to seek a constitutional amendment that would allow candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to run as a ticket.

House Bill 344 would have put a referendum on the ballot in 2018 to require voters to select a "team" as governor and lieutenant governor, starting in November 2020. Voters would still be allowed to cast ballots in party primaries for lieutenant governor candidates, and the winners would be paired with the winners of the gubernatorial primaries.

Sponsor Rep. Bert Jones, R-Rockingham, said 25 of the 43 states that have lieutenant governors have them run on a ticket with the governor. The two positions should be from the same party, he said, especially as the lieutenant governor moves up if the governor dies in office.

In North Carolina, the positions were held by opposing parties in the early 1970s and the mid- to late 1980s, which Rep. Gary Pendleton, R-Wake, said led to "one big cat fight."

Rep. Larry Pittman, R-Cabarrus, said it's important to have the lieutenant governor be independent of the governor. Meanwhile, Rep. Ken Goodman, D-Richmond, said gubernatorial candidates might still get stuck with a lieutenant governor candidate he or she can't stand because voters picked the two candidates independently in the primary.

Some lawmakers said a team requirement could hinder the efforts of unaffiliated candidates to run for either office because they would have to recruit someone to run with them. But Rep. Jeff Collins, R-Nash, said that it would require only one petition for the team to get on the ballot instead of two.

"I think this is a bad idea, but we're not making the decision, we're just putting it on the ballot," said Rep. Michael Speciale, R-Craven, urging House members to let voters decide the issue in three years.

The final vote on the bill was 60-58, but because it is a proposed constitutional amendment, it needed a three-fifths majority to pass.