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Eleni Kounalakis, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
Eleni Kounalakis, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.
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The California Constitution doesn’t grant the lieutenant governor very many powers. Lieutenant governors can break tied votes in the state Senate, fulfill the governor’s responsibilities if the governor is absent from the state and serve on various state commissions. But many, like Gavin ɫ̳om, have used the status of the office as a bully pulpit to promote certain policy changes.

This November, Californians have their pick of two Democrats, a consequence of the open primary system, to serve as lieutenant governor. Voters must consider what sort of lieutenant governor they want to fill a position current Lt. Gov. ɫ̳om once described as “a largely ceremonial post . . . with no real authority and no real portfolio.”

Running this November are state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, and former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis. While both candidates seem to agree on many policy issues, the candidates presented themselves quite distinctly in discussions with our editorial board.

Hernandez noted his experience in the state Legislature and embraced the potential for using the lieutenant governor’s office as a bully pulpit. If elected, Hernandez promised to stump for single-payer healthcare.

In a state where government spending is already out of control, we can’t support such an initiative, which would cost more than the state’s current annual budget.

In contrast, Kounalakis emphasized her interest in working to reduce the cost of higher education in the state. Considering lieutenant governors serve on the University of California Board of Regents and the California State University Board of Trustees, this is a priority that neatly aligns with the constitutional obligations of the lieutenant governor.

Kounalakis, who also has as a background in real estate development, might also prove to be a positive force at the executive level as California continues to grapple with a housing crisis that is making the state less affordable for large segments of the population.

Ultimately, we believe Kounalakis’ background and pragmatic approach to the job will better serve the interests of Californians. We encourage voters to cast their votes for Eleni Kounalakis for lieutenant governor this November.

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