Announcement in Del. AG Race Shines Light on Gap in State Consti - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Announcement in Del. AG Race Shines Light on Gap in State Constitution

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - This week Delaware Lt. Gov. Matt Denn announced he's running for state attorney general. That announcement came after current AG Beau Biden chose not to run for a third term.

Denn's decision to run for attorney general shined a light on an odd gap in the Delaware Constitution.

Government officials leave their jobs all the time for one reason or another. And the state constitution provides a method for getting replacements for every job but one - lieutenant governor.

If Matt Denn became attorney general, the lieutenant governor's position would be vacant for two years. The only currently constitutional way to fill that vacancy is to wait for the 2016 general election.

Sussex County Clerk of the Peace and state constitution expert John Brady explains the importance of the lieutenant governor.

"In Delaware we elect independently a lieutenant governor, so if the government were to leave office before the end of his term, you'd have an elected official assuming that role as governor," he said.

That's happened three times in Delaware since 1960.

A constitutional amendment would be necessary to create a way to replace the lieutenant governor. Brady say that amendment would likely do one of three things. The first is let the governor appoint a replacement. The second is do that but have the state Senate confirm the choice. And third the state could have a special election.

Lawmakers all mulling their options. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Gary Simpson, R-Milford, likes option three.

"What I would favor - and I think the governor and anyone in the legislature should favor - is letting an election go to the people, not depending on the governor for an appointment and the Senate to approve that appointment," he said.

"I'm not really in favor of a special election. Special elections are very expensive," said Speaker of the House Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth. "A statewide special election could cost one million bucks or so."

Rep. Schwartkopf says he'll be discussing this issue with Senate leadership.

Without a lieutenant governor, next in line to the governor's office is secretary of state. That job is job currently held by Jeff Bullock.
Rep. Schwartzkopf adds if lawmakers do decide to move through an amendment, it won't be specifically because Matt Denn might leave the job. It will be because in general there's a gap in the state constitution.

Also, Friday Delaware's chief prosecutor announced she will not be running for attorney general.

Kathy Jennings is a Democrat, like Denn. Her announcement makes Denn the party's presumptive nominee.

No Republicans have yet announced their intention to run for AG in Delaware.
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