When asked whether he was interested in becoming governor, Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne made a salient point in his recent appearance before the Press Club of Baton Rouge.
Anyone one who runs for lieutenant governor should be prepared and able to become governor, Dardenne told his audience. The lieutenant governor is second in line should an incumbent governor die or leave office before finishing a term.
History offers plenty of examples of lieutenant governors here or in other states who became governor through succession. We hope voters keep this in mind when casting a ballot in the upcoming election for lieutenant governor. Voters should consider which candidate might best perform the duties of governor should he have to assume that position.
There are other reasons why voters should take the lieutenant governor’s race seriously. As the state’s second-highest-ranking elected official, the lieutenant governor is responsible for managing the multimillion-dollar state tourism promotion efforts. As such, the lieutenant governor is an important ambassador for Louisiana. The position calls for a person who will represent the state well.
This year’s lieutenant governor’s race pits Dardenne, the incumbent, against fellow Republican Billy Nungesser, the president of Plaquemines Parish. Nungesser initially had accepted an invitation to appear at the Press Club with Dardenne, but then bowed out, citing scheduling conflicts. Nungesser also accepted, and then declined, a candidate forum sponsored by the Pachyderms of Greater Baton Rouge.
Nungesser disputed Dardenne’s suggestion that he’s ducking candidate forums, and Nungesser promised to participate in an upcoming League of Women Voters forum and others before the Oct. 22 election.
We hope Nungesser honors that pledge. Voters are better able to make informed decisions about candidates when those candidates attend forums where they can debate important issues. If candidates repeatedly avoid such forums, voters should be skeptical.