PA Constitution Could Prevent Stack from Holding Two Jobs

Nov 5, 2014

When incoming Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack takes office in January, he says he might try to hold onto his seat in the state Senate, according to a report in PoliticsPA.   

But a local political science professor said Stack wouldn’t be permitted to keep both jobs under the Pennsylvania Constitution.

“According to the constitution, if you’re a senator or a representative, you can’t have any other office that draws a salary,” said Kristin Kanthak, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Stack, who is midway through his fourth 4-year term as District 5 state senator, was elected lieutenant governor Tuesday on a ticket with incoming Governor Tom Wolf.

Though it’s common for candidates to run for two offices at the same time, the constitution requires them to resign from one of the roles if they receive a salary for both, Kanthak said.

There were two instances in the past 15 years when a lieutenant governor kept his seat in the Senate. In late 2001 after Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as director of Homeland Security, Robert Jubelirer became lieutenant governor and remained a senator. When Lieutenant Governor Catherine Baker Knoll died in November 2008,  Senator Joe Scarnati took over as lieutenant governor and held onto his Senate seat.

Stack can technically keep both jobs, but has to give up the salary for one.

He has two months to consider his options.

“Until [Stack] starts drawing a salary as lieutenant governor and actually sitting as lieutenant governor, he can hang onto that seat,” Kanthak said. “He’s not officially lieutenant governor until he’s sworn in.”

Changing the state constitution is not an option for Stack. An amendment to the state constitution must be approved in two consecutive legislative sessions and then okayed by voters through a ballot question.

“Voters might have some trouble with that; if you’re starting off on a new job, to want to change the constitution so you can hang onto your old one,” Kanthak said.

Kanthak said it would take a lawsuit to stop Stack from keeping both jobs even if he gives up his Senate salary. A resident of the 5th district could file suit contending that they are not being fully represented, or “someone from another district would have to file suit if an issue comes up where they’re saying they’re not getting the full representation from their lieutenant governor because the lieutenant governor is playing favorites for his own district,” Kanthak said.