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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Two Term, Or Not Two Term

Believe it or not, the death penalty was not the only issue raised in this past sunday's Gubernatorial debate. Another controversial issue (at least in Virginia) is the issue of Gubernatorial term limits.

Since 1851, the Virginia Constitution has prohibited the Governor from serving consecutive terms. There are no term limits on any other statewide offices or legislative offices. Not surprisingly, both candidates for Governor support repeal of the consecutive term limitation, even though such a change would not affect them. However, the bargaining power lies with the General Assembly, which does not want to grant greater power to the Executive without taking some in return.

The AFP notes today that, with both candidates declaring their support for the change, the proposal may pick up steam in the next legislative session. So hopes Delegate Steve Landes, who authored legislation in last years session to explore the possibility of repeal.

Personally, I support maintaining the one-term limitation because it forces Governors to agressively pursue their policy initiatives and focus their administrations on specific achievements. Further, I have doubts about whether the General Assembly would truly pass legislation to extend the Gubernatorial term. Not only would it diminish the power of the Legislature, but it would mean fewer opportunities for them to ascend to the Governor's mansion.


Blogger GOPHokie said...

Great post Zach. That is precisely the reason any legislation like that will fail.
Too many members of the GA see the governor as having too much power anyway.
This would just give them that much more power.

5:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct, Zach. Giving the governor another term shifts power in favor of his Richmond bureaucracy and away from the legislature and their constituents (us).

7:02 PM

Blogger James Atticus Bowden said...

The Old Dominion, Mother State, leads. Let the other 49 follow when they figure it out.

7:46 PM

Blogger James Young said...

I must confess that I have no strong position on this issue. to the surprise of, no doubt, a few. I am willing to be persuaded on principle, if there are any.

9:46 PM

Blogger criticallythinking said...

I haven't seen any real harm come from the limit. And it has great advantages.

For one, it makes every governor's race a possible competition. Which means we get to debate new ideas, and discuss old ones.

This year is a perfect example. There would be no contest if Warner had to run again.

In fact, that is another good thing about the term limit. In 2004, the legislature could decide how to deal with the governor without really being concerned with how they would effect HIS political future.

It is possible, even likely, that in the last year of a term, a governor running for re-election might have good ideas torpedoed by the legislature simply to keep him from getting good publicity.

And it isn't clear that it has taken away good people. Sure, this year Warner would probably walk away with the race, but that's partly because he's leaving, and partly the natural incumbent effect.

But how many ex-governors have even TRIED to come back 4 years later? And if any have, how many succeeded? (OK, I could look that up, I'm just lazy)

12:14 AM

Blogger AWCheney said...

Mills Godwin...and he succeeded. I remember it well.

4:26 PM

Blogger Steve Haner said...

The basic argument on principal in favor of a second consecutive term is quite simple: why should the people be denied that option? If the people (somebody likes that line this year)...why not trust them on whether to re-elect someone?

The practical argument that works with me after more than two decades of close observation is the problem created by constant turmoil at the top of agencies. I think Bill Leighty calls it the B4 effect -- they were there B4 the governor's agency head came and the agency head will be gone B4 them. You've got two, two and half years tops to get their...cooperation. It wasn't a real problem when you had one-party government, but with partisan transitions common now fewer agency heads stay in place.

5:07 PM


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