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Greensboro News & Record Editorial: Dan Forest in secondary role

(Updated 3:00 am)

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Linda Coleman and Dan Forest list plenty of things they’d like to do as lieutenant governor. Their success, however, really would depend on relationships.

The job comes with few specified constitutional functions, but Article III, Sec. 6, says the lieutenant governor also “shall perform such additional duties as the General Assembly or the governor may assign to him.”

This might not work to Democrat Coleman’s advantage. Republican Pat McCrory is likely headed to election as governor. The General Assembly is almost certain to remain in Republican hands. So Coleman could be given no additional duties at all.

Republican Forest, on the other hand, has already conferred with McCrory, who says he wants to make good use of the lieutenant governor — something not all governors do.

There are other concerns about Forest. He’s never held public office, so he offers no record voters can evaluate. He’s an architect, which speaks well for his academic abilities. However, he proposes a very conservative agenda, including “sanctity of life,” “securing our borders against illegal immigration” and opting out of the national health care law. He should check those impulses. McCrory says he won’t support any further anti-abortion legislation; border security isn’t a state responsibility; and resisting any federal law is unwise. Forest should work instead to support McCrory’s plans to reform public education and modernize the state’s tax code.

Coleman, a former state legislator and Wake County commissioner, was also a career public employee, retiring as state personnel director. She proposes some unrealistic ideas, too, such as making North Carolina “energy independent,” but otherwise represents traditional Democratic views. 

Her main drawback is that she could be isolated by Republicans. If Forest sticks to McCrory’s agenda, he could be a relatively effective lieutenant governor.

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