Much like the vice president in Washington D.C., the role of lieutenant governor in North Carolina is poorly defined. Here are common questions about the N.C. lieutenant governor, answered.

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Who is currently the lieutenant governor of North Carolina?

The lieutenant governor of North Carolina is Dan Forest. He is serving his second four-year term, and has signaled that he intends to run for governor in 2020.

Forest is the son of former Charlotte mayor and long-time congresswoman Sue Myrick, and this is his first political office. He has become known for his attention to social issues, including opposing same-sex marriage and policies allowing transgender people to use the bathroom of their gender identity.

Forest is also known for being a strong supporter of the community college system.

Dan Forest. Photo via Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on Facebook.

How is the lieutenant governor elected?

The governor and lieutenant governor are elected statewide at the same time, and each serves a four-year term. But they are not a ticket — the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor.

This isn’t always an issue. But right now, the governor and lieutenant governor are of different parties. Gov. Roy Cooper is a Democrat, and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest a Republican.

What are the lieutenant governor’s duties?

Per the state constitution, the North Carolina lieutenant governor has two powerful but largely symbolic roles.

  • President of the N.C. Senate, but no vote unless there is a tie.
  • Member ex-officio of the State Board of Education.

The constitution also states that the lieutenant governor performs “additional duties as the General Assembly or the Governor may assign to him.”

The lieutenant governor also becomes the state’s governor in the case of the governor’s death or incapacitation. When the governor has left the state of North Carolina, the lieutenant governor serves as “acting governor.”

What experience does the lieutenant governor typically have?

The role doesn’t have a defined career path. Your best bet to win this office, though, is to serve in the General Assembly for a decade or so before running.

Here’s where the last few lieutenant governors came from.

Dan Forest (2012-present): First elected office. His mother, however, is Sue Myrick, a long-time Congresswoman and former mayor of Charlotte. He is expected to run for governor.

Walter Dalton (2008-2012): N.C. Senate for 12 years prior to election as lieutenant governor. He then lost election for governor to Pat McCrory.

Bev Perdue (2000-2008): N.C. Senate for 10 years prior to election as lieutenant governor. She was in the N.C. House for 4 years before that. She later became governor.

Dennis Wicker (1992-2000): N.C. House for 10 years. He lost the primary for governor to Mike Easley in 2000.

Jim Gardner (1988-1992): Political hiatus before election as lieutenant governor. He was chairman of the state Republican Party in the 1960s and elected to Congress in 1966 for one term. He ran unsuccessfully for governor several times before taking a decade or so off from politics. He then ran for governor again in 1992 and lost.

Bob Jordan (1984-1988): N.C. Senate for 8 years. He later ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Jimmy Green (1976-1984): N.C. House for 15 years. He later ran unsuccessfully for governor.

Jim Hunt (1972-1976): First political office. He was an economic advisor oversees and worked on various Democratic campaigns and a delegate to several conventions.

Do lieutenant governors often become governor?

Lieutenant governors often follow up their terms by running for governor — but have mixed success.

Each of the last seven lieutenant governors has run for the higher office. Five were unsuccessful, while two were elected.

In short, it’s not a sure thing. But becoming lieutenant governor is often the quickest path to the Executive Mansion.

The North Carolina Executive Mansion. Photo by NAVFAC via Flickr (Creative Commons).

How much is the N.C. lieutenant governor paid?

The lieutenant governor’s salary is currently $125,676.

Who will be North Carolina’s next lieutenant governor?

The race to be the next lieutenant governor is wide open. Only one candidate has declared an intention to run: Republican Deborah Cochran, former mayor of Mount Airy.

Clark Twiddy, a Dare County Republican and businessman, had initially said he was interested in running before switching to a N.C. Senate race. He lost his primary.

In the Democratic Party, former N.C. Sen. Malcolm Graham is reportedly considering a run.

The unsuccessful Democratic candidate of the last two years, Linda Coleman, is currently running for Congress.

Cover image of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest by the N.C. National Guard via Flickr (Creative Commons).

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