Daily Herald
So who's the next Lt. Gov.? Answer may surprise you
By Dan Carden | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 1/29/2009 5:29 PM

SPRINGFIELD - Now that Pat Quinn has become governor, who becomes the lieutenant governor?

Answer: no one.

According to the Illinois Constitution, when the office of lieutenant governor becomes vacant "it shall remain vacant until the end of the term." Should anything happen to Quinn, the constitution says he would be succeeded first by Attorney General Lisa Madigan and then Secretary of State Jesse White.

Illinois won't have a lieutenant governor until January 2011.

Will anyone notice?

The constitution assigns no specific powers or duties to the lieutenant governor, aside from waiting around to see if the governor dies, resigns, or, like Blagojevich, is impeached and removed from office. A governor can delegate responsibilities to the lieutenant governor, but doesn't have to.

Quinn called attention to environmental and veterans issues during his six years as lieutenant governor, but had few formal responsibilities. Last month Quinn said he hadn't even spoken to Blagojevich since 2007.

Two recent lieutenant governors quit the job saying there was nothing to do.

In June 1994, Lt. Gov. Bob Kustra announced he would resign in order to take a job on Chicago talk radio. But then-Gov. Jim Edgar had quadruple bypass surgery and Kustra decided to stick around just in case.

Kustra later quit for good in July 1998 to become a university president. He is currently president of Boise State University in Idaho.

Lt. Gov. Dave O'Neal said he was just bored when he quit the post in 1981. He later served as assistant secretary of labor under President Reagan.

O'Neal said at the time a person of average intelligence could learn the whole job in a week.

Quinn is the first lieutenant governor to make it to the top office since 1968, when Samuel Shapiro became governor after Otto Kerner resigned to take a federal judgeship. In 1940, John H. Stelle became governor after Henry Horner died in office.

The Illinois rule that keeps the office of lieutenant governor vacant is different from what happens when the vice presidency is vacant. The U.S. Constitution allows the president to nominate a new vice president, who must then be approved by a majority vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

President Richard Nixon used this power to appoint Gerald Ford vice president in 1973, following Vice President Spiro Agnew's resignation. Ford appointed Nelson Rockefeller vice president in 1974 after Ford replaced Nixon in the Oval Office.