- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 3, 2015

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin said Tuesday he’s backing a lawmaker’s push for his office to no longer be a separately elected position and instead have Arkansas’ No. 2 constitutional officer appear on the ballot as the governor’s running mate.

The Republican ex-congressman said he supports a proposed constitutional amendment that would have the two officials run jointly rather than appear separately on the ballot. Republican Rep. Julie Mayberry of Hensley has proposed putting the measure on the ballot next year. If approved by voters, it would take effect with the 2022 election.

Griffin said he thinks it’s important to have the state’s top two elected officials be of the same party and work together as a team. Griffin and Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson were elected to office in November.

“It makes sure both are of the same party,” Griffin said. “It’s important if you think what the relationship I have and the team approach I have with the governor is something to be replicated.”

Mayberry said she was dropping two other constitutional amendments she’s proposed related to the lieutenant governor’s office, including one to abolish the post. Mayberry’s husband, Andy, ran unsuccessfully against Griffin for the GOP nomination for the job last year on a vow to push for the office’s abolition.

Mayberry said she believed the proposal to have the two officials run jointly had the most momentum.

“I think then you’ve got a team,” she said. “I don’t think that’s something we’ve seen in the past.”

The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate and casts the rare tie-breaking vote in the 35-member chamber. The duties also include serving as acting governor when the governor is out of state or unable to serve. Two lieutenant governors have been elevated to governor because of resignations over the past 22 years.

Griffin’s predecessor, Republican Mark Darr, resigned early last year over ethics violations tied to office and campaign spending.

Under Mayberry’s proposal, gubernatorial candidates would be required to name their running mates before the primary elections.

Mayberry’s amendment includes another proposal Griffin has previously supported, to allow the governor to retain his powers when he’s out of state.

The Legislature can refer up to three amendments to voters next year, and legislative panels are beginning to whittle down the list of measures.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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