Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle are introducing separate bills to provide a means for filling a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office. Currently, the state code fails to address the situation. One bill would mandate a special election to fill the office; the other bill would allow the governor to appoint the replacement. The gap in the code came to light after Lt. Gov. Matt Denn announced he would run for state attorney general this fall. If he wins, the lieutenant governor’s office would be vacant for two years. Republican leaders are calling for a state constitutional amendment to mandate that any such vacancy be filled through a special election, according to a news release. State Rep. Deborah Hudson, House Minority Whip, said the measure should be non-partisan. “A vacancy can occur when a member of any party occupies the office,” she said. “Vacancies in the General Assembly are filled through special elections and that process favors no party. Candidates step to the forefront, run a race, and the people decide. What’s the argument against using the democratic process?”
Currently, if a governor were to leave office or die in the absence of a lieutenant governor, Delaware Code mandates the secretary of state, a gubernatorial-appointed position, would become governor.
Legislators can pass a constitutional amendment to call for a special election in that specific case, but they would need to pass the bill twice. In order to accomplish that as quick as possible, before the 2016 General Election, the lawmakers would need to pass the first leg of the amendment by June 30.