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Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis speaks to students at CSUF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis speaks to students at CSUF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science on Friday, May 13, 2022. (Photo by Drew A. Kelley, Contributing Photographer)
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Under the California Constitution, there isn’t much for the lieutenant governor to do.

She or he serves as acting governor if the governor leaves the state and becomes governor if the governor’s position becomes vacant.

Related: Our full list of endorsements

In the case of a tie vote in the state Senate, they serve as tie-breakers. The lopsided makeup of the state Senate nullifies that latter obligation.

Lieutenant governors do serve on various state boards, including of the state’s higher education systems.

Related endorsement: Jack Guerrero for California State Treasurer

But in brief, they don’t have much to do.

Assessing whether a lieutenant governor is doing a particularly stellar job, then, can be a challenging task. However, you still want someone in that office who is  competent and decent because of the possibility they could, conceivably, become governor.

Related endorsement: Lanhee Chen for state controller

By that standard, Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis passes with flying colors and we endorse her re-election.

We endorsed Kounalakis four years ago over then-state Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, who vowed to use the office as a bully pulpit to advocate for single-payer health care.

Related endorsement: Lance Christensen for state superintendent

Kounalakis, a former U.S. ambassador to Hungary with extensive business experience as a housing developer, took a more pragmatic approach to the office and emphasized her interest in reducing the cost of and boosting access to higher education.

Last year, Gov. Gavin ɫ̳om signed legislation, Assembly Bill 928, sponsored by Kounalakis, which will streamline the path from community colleges to the Cal State and University of California systems.

Propositions: Our endorsements for all state propositions on the 2022 ballot

In a recent meeting with our editorial board, Kounalakis’ emphasis on practical matters and working constructively to solve problems came through.

Kounalakis understands the very practical need for California to invest in water infrastructure, including reservoirs and dams.

Given her background in housing development, she also no doubt understands both the need for more housing in California and also the regulatory hurdles to meeting our state’s housing needs.

While there’s only so much she can directly do on any of these fronts from her current position, Kounalakis’ smart and pragmatic approach to the office serves the state well. You’d want someone with her temperament and insight in the room as major policy decisions on these issues are being made.

In speaking with our editorial board, Kounalakis did not shy away from the fact that she is interested in someday seeking the governorship herself. If she does so, we encourage her to maintain her focus on finding practical solutions to the state’s challenges.

Kounalakis does face a Republican challenger in this race, but we can find no evidence that a serious campaign is being waged.

Either way, though, we believe Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis has lived up to her campaign promises from four years ago. She has earned re-election and your vote.

Sourcing & Methodology

To help you make decisions about the numerous candidates, measures, propositions and other races on your ballot, our editorial board (made up of opinion writers and editors), makes recommendations every election. The process is completely separate from newsroom reporting and journalists. With the exception of our executive editor, the members of our editorial board are not news reporters or editors. 

Sal Rodriguez, the opinion editor for the Southern California ɫ̳ Group’s 11 newspapers, heads the editorial board and guides our stances on public policy and political matters.  

Every week, our team analyzes legislation, monitors political developments, interviews elected officials or policy advocates and writes editorials on the issues of the day. Unsigned editorials reflect the consensus of our editorial board, with the aim of offering arguments that are empirically sound and intellectually consistent.

We apply this same process when considering to endorse candidates.

As a practical matter, we are selective in which races we endorse in. We endorse on all statewide ballot measures, competitive congressional races, select races for the state legislature and select countywide and city elections.

We identify credible candidates through surveys and interviews, deliberate based on our editorial precedent and in light of contemporary realities, and issue endorsements accordingly.

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