Maryland’s incoming lieutenant governor, Boyd Rutherford (R), has decided that he doesn’t want a stand-alone office with a full staff that reports just to him. Instead, Rutherford said Tuesday that he plans to work closely with the staff of Gov.-elect Larry Hogan (R).
This setup will allow the two to work seamlessly together on issues, Rutherford said, and hopefully prevent the isolation that some deputies have experienced in previous administrations.
“I think we should be a team, and Larry feels the same way,” Rutherford said Tuesday evening at a menorah-lighting ceremony in Baltimore. “We’ve seen with lieutenant governors — almost since they re-created the lieutenant governor position — that, sometimes, you have conflict. We started as friends, and we want to stay friends.”
Rutherford and Hogan both worked for Gov. Robert Ehrlich, Maryland’s previous Republican governor who was in office from 2003 to 2007. Hogan was the appointments secretary and Rutherford was the secretary of the Department of General Services.
Rutherford said that he will have a couple staff members of his own, but not a chief of staff or spokesman. This setup will likely save the state some money, he said, but that is a “side benefit” and was not a driving factor in the decision.
Hogan, who has been quietly and quickly building his administration, confirmed Tuesday that he and Rutherford plan to share a staff. Hogan already has tasked his No. 2 with overseeing the state’s response to a rush of heroin-related overdose deaths.
“Usually the lieutenant governor has kind of a peripheral function without any real responsibilities, but he’s going to be just the opposite,” Hogan said. “He’s going to be directly involved in the management of the government with us.”
Maryland’s Constitution of 1864 created the office of the lieutenant governor, tasking that official with serving as president of the Senate and taking over for the governor in the case of death, resignation or removal from office. But after a few years, the state got rid of its lieutenant governor. The position was reestablished in 1970, soon after Spiro T. Agnew (R) left the governorship midterm to become vice president under Richard Nixon. Marvin Mandel (D), then speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates, became governor at that time.
The only official duty of the lieutenant governor is to take over for the governor if the need arrises — as it did in 1977 when Mandel was indicted and then convicted on federal mail fraud and racketeering charges. His No. 2, Blair Lee III, became the acting governor. (Blair Lee IV is now a member of Hogan’s transition team.)
While lieutenant governors are often delegated some responsibilities, their work is often in the shadow of the governor and difficult to distinguish — which could be one reason why Maryland voters have yet to elect a governor who has served in the role. Maryland’s current lieutenant governor, Anthony G. Brown (D), ran against Hogan but lost.
Soon after the election, political columnist Barry Rascovar suggested that Maryland abolish the ceremonial lieutenant governor position, along with its staff of eight, because the annual $1 million price-tag is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
“It’s pointless to continue the charade that has existed for 44 years,” Rascovar wrote in a Nov. 30 column published on MarylandReporter.com. “Let’s use common sense and rid Maryland of this meaningless office that is wasting a million dollars a year. That’s the kind of practical step voters expect from Hogan.”