Leader Blues

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

EDITORIAL>>Halter for lite governor

Think about it this way. Neither Bill Halter nor Jim Holt will do much harm or much good when they preside over the Arkansas Senate, which is the only constitutional duty that a lieutenant governor has, but he might be the acting governor for a few hours or a few days sometime.

And he could become the real governor should something happen to the governor before the next election.
That is exactly what happened three times since the office was created 80 years ago. Neither Mike Beebe nor Asa Hutchinson, in his heart, wants Jim Holt when they are out of state to be only a flight of stairs away from the governorís chair.
Holt would exercise the full power of governor.

If a term on the Highway Commission expired he would appoint one of his own pals. He might call out the National Guard to round up Mexicans at the country club or call the legislature into session. Who really knows? Once when Gov. Bill Clinton left the state, Nick Wilson, who was the acting governor for a day, fired the governorís chief of staff.

Holt would give the governor heartburn whenever he left the state. Heaven knows what mischief he would wreak. Halter may campaign on issues like heís going to be the governor, not just the lite governor, but he says he would not be a pretender and undermine the stateís elected chief executive.

Holt would be a nightmare for lawmakers, too. Even Republican senators find him outside the pale. Rather than preside impartially over the Senate, which is his duty, he has made it clear that he would take sides and promote his own legislative agenda.

One is to scotch the minimum wage. He cast the only vote against the tiny raise in the wage floor early this year. He thinks early childhood programs for poor children are communist, and he would fight funding for them. Government works poorly enough as it is. It does not need a monkey wrench in a slot that is supposed to smooth the lawmaking process, not impede it. So we would choose Bill Halter, a smart North Little Rock boy who exudes competence.