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For Lieutenant Governors, Big Leagues Have Come Calling

Deputy Chief of Staff Jerry Boden looks on as Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown practices his pitching Tuesday on the grounds of the Maryland State House.

As political metaphors go, the lieutenant governor's warm-up toss on the lawn of the State House Tuesday may have been more fitting than it seemed.

Lt. Gov. Anthony B. Brown (D) took a literal moment in the sun to practice the ceremonial first pitch he has been invited to throw out Friday at Camden Yards, when the Red Sox take on the Orioles as the National Lieutenant Governors Association meets in Baltimore.

Brown was having fun with a minute in the media spotlight, joking that maybe he could parlay his personalized Orioles jersey and fastball into a high-profile career beyond the State House.

But in the past year or so, several of those waiting on deck in the often little-noticed political roles of second-in-command have been called up to the Big Leagues.

Lieutenant governors have assumed control of four states, and soon will notch a fifth when Utah Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert replaces outgoing Gov. Jon Huntsman, who has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to China.

Former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's sex scandal last March and the impeachment of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in January propelled Gov. David Paterson and Gov. Patrick Quinn to power.

In March, President Obama's appointment of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to Secretary of Health and Human Services lifted Gov. Mark Parkinson to the top job. (In Arizona -- one of about a half-dozen states without a lieutenant governor -- former Gov. Janet Napolitano's departure in January for the post of Secretary of Homeland Security left Secretary of State Jan Brewer in charge).

And, of course, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's surprise departure this month elevated Gov. Sean Parnell. (There's no word, by the way, if Alaska's new second-in-command, Lt. Gov. Craig Campbell -- whom Palin reportedly called the state's "temporary substitute lieutenant governor" -- will attend this week's gathering).

Brown, who's playing host to nearly two dozen of the nation's remaining would-be governors, said the group will discuss states' roles in economic recovery, health care reform and even cybersecurity.

The gathering begins Wednesday night with a reception at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, and Gov. Martin O'Malley will host the group Thursday, but for Brown, the highlight clearly will be his shot at the majors.

"You've got to come in like you mean it," he said, promising a hard ball, not a lob over home plate. When it's your turn, he said, "you've got to bring the heat."

By Aaron C. Davis  |  July 29, 2009; 3:46 AM ET
Categories:  Aaron C. Davis , Governor  
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He may want to check out this site before thinking about bringing it:

Basically, if you screw it up, you'll be infamous in a bad way. Throw a strike or floater .. no one will care; and maybe that's not bad.

Posted by: tslats | July 29, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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