DES MOINES — Republican Adam Gregg was part of a winning statewide campaign as Gov. Kim Reynolds’ running mate in Tuesday’s elections, but he will remain in an acting capacity as Iowa’s lieutenant governor until he is sworn in as the state’s No. 2 executive.
Lynn Hicks, communications director for Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, said Gregg will not officially be part of the state’s line of succession until he is administered the oath of office, presumably in January.
Gregg’s status became the focus of a murky area of Iowa law and a constitutional dispute that arose after then-Gov. Terry Branstad resigned in 2017 to become the ambassador to China and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds succeeded him.
Reynolds picked Gregg, who was serving as the state’s public defender, to take her place as lieutenant governor. But Miller issued a legal opinion that put a cloud over his status. Miller said research by his office found that an individual ascending midterm from lieutenant governor to governor does not have the constitutional authority to appoint a replacement.
Reynolds, Branstad and others disputed Democrat Miller’s position. But rather than risk a legal challenge, Reynolds appointed Gregg as “acting” lieutenant governor — a hybrid that makes him a “full partner” in her administration but that leaves him out of the line of constitutional succession to replace her if need be.
Last session, Republicans who control the Iowa Legislature approved Senate Joint Resolution 2006, which would ask voters to amend the state constitution to solidify the lieutenant governor’s place in the line of succession. The resolution must again pass both the Iowa House and the Iowa Senate of the 88th Iowa General Assembly, which begins its two-year run Jan. 14, to be eligible to come to a vote in 2020.
The Republican ticket of Reynolds-Gregg garnered 50.4 percent in unofficial tallies. The Democratic ticket of gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell and his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart, finished with 47.4 percent.
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