Vice Lieutenants of the Board of Aldermen
There is a very enjoyable article today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about a local expert on vice presidents, which is topical because Washington University will be hosting the vice presidential campaign debate later this year. I share Professor Joel Goldstein’s interest in this office, and other unusual political offices. I say "unusual" because the vice president and, at the state level, the lieutenant governor are the only elected offices that cross multiple branches of government. They are offices of both the executive branch in their capacity of being successor to the president or governor, representing the president or governor (in Missouri, assuming both officials are of the same party) at official events, and sitting on various boards or commissions as the representative of the executive branch.
They serve in the legislative branch in their capacity of president of the Senate at both the national and state level, at least here in Missouri (not every state does it the same way). Nowadays, the vice president or lieutenant governor only oversee the Senate on ceremonial occasions or perhaps for major votes where their tie-breaking authority might be called upon. However, it used to be common for them to do so. This even led to a lawsuit in the 1970s in Missouri when Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Phelps (who I had the pleasure of talking to just this past weekend) wanted to oversee the state Senate, and the large Democratic majority at the time did not want him involved, for obvious reasons. (The practice of vice presidents overseeing the daily operations of the Senate ended long before the 1970s.) The senators won the case, and I have no idea whether it was a good decision or a bad one, but it’s an interesting footnote for the office.
Some voters are still unaware that, unlike the president and vice president, Missouri’s lieutenant governors are not elected as part of a ticket. As such, while not common, it is also not unusual for the governor and the lieutenant governor to be of opposite parties. I like keeping the elections separate, although I would be happy to concede certain points for them to be elected on a ticket. As the 35th senator and the successor to the governor in the event of a tragedy (which happened in Missouri just a few years ago), I like that the lieutenant governor is independently elected. Voters can judge a candidate’s fitness for those capacities, and go from there.
I feel that the president of the Board of Alderman in the city of St. Louis sort of crosses branches as well. While those serving in this position primarily fall in the legislative branch, they are elected citywide and also serve in an executive sense on the Board of Estimate & Apportionment. I guess you could say that the attorney general and county prosecuting attorneys serve in both executive branch and the judicial branch, but I think they more accurately represent the executive branch (and the citizenry) before the judiciary, and are not a part of it.