Running For The Job You Want

Donald Trump wants to know:

To which Kate Rose pointed out:

Almost always along partisan or primary preference lines, people criticize politicians who hold jobs seeking the presidency or vice-presidency instead of tending to the jobs they have. Every four years, like clockwork, we pretend that so-and-so is the first ever to miss votes, leave things in the hands of their lieutenant governor, or whatever else. This year’s target was Marco Rubio and, later on, Bernie Sanders.

Generally speaking, I view that as a matter between a senator (or governor) and their state. New Jerseyans lost patience with Chris Christie. Floridians may or may not have been bothered by Rubio (his approvals took a hit while he was running, but look good now). Vermonters seem not the least bit bothered with Bernie. All of these responses are reasonable. For the most part, my response tends to be pretty relaxed. For senators especially, but also governors. It’s a matter of state pride to have one of your own out there unless you didn’t like them to begin with. Even if I don’t like them, I can’t very well object to that guy neglecting his responsibilities if I wouldn’t object to someone I do like.

For it to matter to me, a campaign has to be pretty quixotic, or there has to be something particular about what they’re doing differently than everybody else who has one job and campaigns for another.

Mike Pence photo

Image by Editor B

Mike Pence falls into that category. If I were in Indiana, I’d have wanted him to resign. Not out of disdain, but because from now until the end of his tenure (give or take a couple months), he’s going to be tied up with the election. From the day he was named until election day. Then he is either the vice-president elect, or more likely he is a term-limited governor who has about ten weeks left on the job.

Most governors are elected during mid-terms, and they would still have two years left to govern. Pence doesn’t. He does, however, have a lieutenant governor running to replace him. He could let that guy run the state and give him the prestige of incumbency going into that election. And give Indiana a full-time governor.

The other borderline case was Rubio, who had intended not to run for re-election. Given that Florida is a swingy state and has a Republican governor, he could have stepped aside, let Scott appoint someone to the job, and Florida could have had a full-time senator and Rubio could have avoided some bad publicity. However, Rubio wanted the paycheck and the platform, and benefited from the ability to change his mind on whether to run for re-election or not. Floridians seem to have forgiven him, but there is an argument that he should have resigned (though those criticizing him mostly just wanted him to stop running for president). With Pence, though, the only rationale (other than governing from November to January) is the paycheck.

Of course, the paycheck isn’t nothing when it’s your paycheck, I suppose. Earned or not.


Editor-in-Chief
Home Page Twitter Google+ Pinterest 

Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

45 thoughts on “Running For The Job You Want

  1. How much of the Governor’s work can be done by staff? How much of the non-delegable can be done remotely? Probably a lot. Would it be better if the actual Governor were actually there in the flesh? Of course — but the office can no doubt do better than limp along for a while and get the job functions executed. Direction can come in from the Governor himself by phone, fax, e-mail, and courier.

    It’s not 1816 anymore: the need for a Governor to be physically in the capital is not as pressing. Now, I’m not advocating a totally Telecommuting Governor. But especially if there is a reasonable working relationship with the Lieutenant Governor, for a ten- or twelve-week campaign cycle, this seems like it would be tolerable.

    Report

    • The biggest exception is when the legislature is in session, when arm twisting and signing/vetoing is going on. In Indiana, in 2016, the legislature convened on January 5 and adjourned sine die on March 14. Not clear that there is much formal activity after that. I’d put competent agency heads higher on the list than reasonable working relationship with the LG.

      Report

    • All of that is true, but my experience with top executives is that they generally have a queue of people outside their offices for 100% of every working day. Questions, signatures, etc. Just the day-to-day work of being the person who approves important things, even if all of the important things are designed and implemented by staff.

      Even if every individual operation is small, it takes up a huge amount of time. If somebody has to step in and take it over, they’re pretty much 100% focused on that. I suppose it depends on the state. If the job of Lieutenant Governor is really just waiting for the governor to step away, then it sounds like it will work out just fine. In fact, having an understudy for the executive who does nothing else seems like a pretty good idea, especially if it’s easy to transition back and forth (not just on death or disability, but also when the governor needs to step away briefly or is overwhelmed and needs to delegate further). But if the LG actually wields power and does other things while the Governor works, it seems like some balls are pretty likely to get dropped.

      Report

      • Anecdote about the only hour and a quarter when I knew exactly what the CEO of our Fortune 100 telecom/cable company was doing…

        In the mid-1990s, his daughter was doing some project in high school. She and her partner on the project had settled on “video conferencing over the internet” as their subject. I suppose they’d seen an article somewhere about how cool this would be, but there were few working systems around. One of the requirements for their project was to interview an expert. I was an expert; I had a working system I’d written that was used for demonstrations and experiments; I happened to have one of my workstations at the HQ building for other purposes. So for 75 minutes, the young women interviewed me over an IP-based real-time audio-video-shared paper application, them at HQ and me at the research building 35 miles away. The CEO paced in the background behind them the entire time.

        Report

        • There’s a lot of short duration spells of free time in a CEO’s life, because most of his/her work is meetings or calls that have to be coordinated around the also busy schedules of the other people. There’s plenty of one hour here, two hours there, with nothing in the calendar which gets filled in by reading trade magazines, signing letters, approving expense reports, walking around the office, or playing solitaire in the computer.

          What a CEO rarely has is a free day, much less several free days together to make a family vacation out of it.

          Plus, have you thought he might have been curious about this video conferencing thing too? He was probably looking at it and wondering if the idea could go anywhere.

          Report

          • In our case, lots of sitting on airplanes, too; my best guess is that he was on the road three days out of five. Since he had first call on the corporate jet, not a lot of time sitting in airports :^) Occasional extended trips to Europe and Asia, where we had significant operations. Lots of time talking to stock analysts to convince them we knew what we were doing. Lots of business conference appearances, convincing other people that we knew what we were doing.

            You’re probably right about the curiosity thing. At the time, I was a (lonely) IP evangelist at the company, trying to convince management that TCP/IP and Ethernet were bound to win over the standards the ITU was pushing.

            Report

    • I remember fondly back when MIke Curb was lieutenant governor of California. This was back the last time Jerry Brown was governor. The governor and lieutenant governor in California don’t run as a ticket. They are elected separately, and can be of different parties. In particular, Curb was a Republican. Also, the lieutenant governor has full authority as acting governor whenever the governor is out of the state. So whenever Brown was out of the state for any reason (including, but not limited to, running for president) Curb would get busy issuing executive orders, appointing judges, vetoing legislation, and so forth. Then Brown would get back from wherever he had been and spend time undoing Curb’s actions. Repeat. Good times!

      Report

  2. I’m a fan of quitting and running. You were elected and are paid to do a job. You’re not doing it. At best, you’re working it part time. At worse, you’ve got someone else doing it. That’s not what you signed up for. Quit.

    Report

  3. Look at Paul Ryan: ran for both VP and the House at the same time while serving in the House. Had he won as VP, he would have left his district underrepresented until a special election could be held. (Representatives, unlike senators, cannot be appointed.)

    Report

  4. I tend to file this under the heading of Things Pretty Much Everyone Does But No One Cares About Unless It’s The Government, along with state workers who get new office furniture every other decade or people negotiating raises at their review.

    I’m sure some people will point out exceptions, but I don’t know that many people from my pre-retirement days who didn’t start working on tasks/projects outside of what they were hired to do when they were positioning themselves for a promotion or a lateral move. People rarely object, because everyone knows that as a general rule of thumb it’s good for the department/division/team/company if one of your guys or gals expands their influence — which they tend to do when they spread their wings even if they don’t get the gig they were gunning for. Politicians and their constituencies are no different.

    To one degree or another, Indiana will be in a better position for Pence having run for VP, just like Rubio’s district will be better for having him become a national contender, and, more to the point, just like The Trump Organization will be better off having him run for POTUS.

    Report

    • It seems, though, Tod, that in the examples you’re offering, the people are still doing things for their organization, not in the hopes of getting hired by a competing organization. Maybe that’s not always the case, but it seems to usually be the case.

      That said, I know of one person who was being transitioned out of a job at one place. Because that person had timely notice from the organization, they were able to gradually assume responsibilities at another organization while still working at the old one. I don’t think anyone at the old organization begrudged them that. So in a sense, it’s kind of like term limiting and happily for that person, it seemed to work out.

      Report

    • I’ve changed jobs several times. And independent schools, in a weird way, are like elections: job hunting season is in February/March/April but you don’t actually change positions until the summer or fall.

      So, yes, there is an extent to which the search for a new job distracts from the current job. Time is taken off to interview. Attention is diverted to resume building. And accepting a position may (not always, but often) mean you begin receiving emails or given other tasks in advance of formally starting the new role.

      But that feels very different from what is described here. For the analogy to hold, I would have to take weeks or months off, essentially abandoning the bulk of my responsibilities for an extended period.

      Report

  5. Not really on board with this, as we currently have a President who was but a half term Senator when he ran and the person whom he ran against the first time was a Senator also. It is just part of the game, and that is why we have two senators, a lieutenant Gov. etc. To provide for these sorts of things. We wouldn’t have said that Obama shouldn’t run as he is still serving as a Senator. Why should we do that if the person is the Vice Pres. or a Governor, or Sec Defense etc. This is why we have a chain of command and a ticket system.

    Except California. With disastrous results at times.

    Report

  6. At least in Texas there’s the matter of state paid security. When Perry run in 2012, taxpayers had to foot the bill for travel, lodging and meals for his security detail and others. Yes, his campaign paid for his ticket, but the security detail was a lot of people on the taxpayers dime.

    At least we don’t need to pay for the Senators entourage

    Report

  7. I’d think that being a governor takes more steady time than being in Congress. I’d also think that running for President in the general election takes more time than running as VP in the general or running for President in the primaries. Those may all be false assumptions on my part. I’d rather see someone leave office if they’re going to make a serious presidential run, but I can’t get too upset at a vice-presidential candidate splitting his time for a couple of months, assuming he’s making sound judgments.

    I should also add: I don’t see how you can run for president effectively when you’ve got another job.

    Report

  8. A couple of things occur to me. One: there’s no office like the presidency. There’s no office where it’s as presumptively reasonable to expect that as much of the office holder’s working time (everyone needs actual vacations and down time just to do the job) should be devoted to the actual responsibilities of the office as it is for the president.

    And: Obama isn’t running for anything. If we’re going to have a government determined by elections and a multi-party system, and we want politicians experienced in government to hold its high offices, then we’re going to have to accept office holders campaigning for offices for which they run while holding other (lower) offices. Not every time, but many times. The point is, we need people to run for office in a democracy; we don;t need non-candidates to campaign for those candidates nearly as much. So, we’ll have to allocate some variant on, for example, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, to seek the offices we want to fill with experienced public servants. Unless we want to make anyone seeking office resign any current office before doing so, and that just seems like a really bad idea to me.

    BUT – with the exception of presidents running for re-election (which seems like a fundamentally important activity for us to preserve in American democracy to me) – those office holders whose time we allocate to running for high office aren’t ever going to be sitting presidents.

    So, on the assumption that the office for which we’d have the most concern about working time (campaigning for allied politicians being work) being offset from duty-execution would be the presidency, and seeing that this isn’t a necessary instance of political campaigning by an office-holder, where the “necessity” comes from the need to have *candidates* with experience run for high office and hence campaign (I.e., Obama could decline to do this, and you’d still have the candidate herself there filling the spot of “candidate position we need filled by credible experienced pol”), to me it seems like this raises more questions than just the typical example of an office holder running and campaigning for office does.

    That being said, I’m not particularly troubled by it. It seems to me that outgoing presidents are gong to campaign for the candidates they’d like to succeed them – that’s just a situation that the Twenty-Second amendment is bound to create.

    It’s strange, though. I don’t know that that assumption has been tested all that much in the modern era until now. George W. Bush was famously not terribly simpatico with John McCain, and he was quite unpopular by the time it came time to put his thumb on the scale for him. Not sure how much campaigning he ended up doing.

    Bill Clinton famously wanted to campaign for Al Gore, but Gore famously was interested in limiting how much that happened because of the president’s recent scandals. Not sure how much campaigning he ended up doing.

    George H.W. Bush… lost.

    Reagan… might have gone all-out for Bush. I’m not sure. Does anyone know that history?

    Carter… lost.

    Ford… lost.

    Nixon… yeah.

    Johnson… Dems 1968. I mean…

    The modern era is waning now.

    Eisenhower? It seems to me maybe he did campaign significantly for Nixon. But I really have no idea… and the modern era (and the modern sense of expectation of how the president spends his time) is now waning fast.

    Long story short, this may be one of the very few instances of its kind in the modern era, where an outgoing president puts unconflictedly and in full concert with a candidate puts the full oomph of his public position into the job of electing a preferred successor. I think it’s fair, and distinct enough from say, a sitting governor seeking the presidency (because this is the presidency and the presidency is different, and because the president doesn’t actually have to do this in order for us simply to *have* a candidate to seek an office for a major party, wheres quite often for lower office-holders that is more-or-less necessary) to at least raise it as a question.

    Report

    • I agree with much of this, but why do you think it’s a bad idea to have a resign-to-run rule? I see a major benefit of limiting primaries to more-serious candidates. You won’t get folks just throwing their hat into the ring for publicity or to test the waters or money.

      Report

      • The “joke” candidates in the last two GOP prez primary campaigns were the very ones that didn’t have an elected job at the time they threw in their hats, or had never had an elected job at all in their lives.

        Report

        • I don’t mean the jokes so much as I mean the people who are running with no chance of winning, with no intention of winning, and with no real intention of impacting the conversation. I’m thinking of someone like Bobby Jindahl (who may have already been out of office if memory serves, but that type of candidate).

          If there is a cost to running other than embarrassment — which many of these folks seem immune to — maybe they’ll take it a bit more seriously.

          Report

          • I don’t think there are many not joke joke candidates that fit your description. Bobby Jindal was delusional but every action he took in LA (he was still sitting governor) in the last 4 years was weighted on how it would help or hinder his presidential run ( for instance refusing to even close tax loopholes while contemplating closing several campuses of Louisiana state because the university is on the verge of bankruptcy)

            Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Christie, Kassich, they all were running seriously, too.

            Huckabee is the only one that I can think was running for the money, as did Gingrich in 2012.

            Report

          • How good are we at measuring who has no chance of winning, no intention of winning, or no real intention of impacting the conversation?

            I know that I am much less confident in my ability to do this than I was at this time last year.

            Report

            • I would not impose this rule from the outside. There would be no mechanism to tell a candidate that he *couldn’t* run. Rather, each candidate would have to decide for herself if giving up the position they currently hold in order to pursue a new one was worth it. They would do their own calculus.

              I’m thinking of the candidate who is thinking, “Man, running would be fun. I’d be on the news every night! Fancy dinners! Donors!!! Wait… I’d have to quit my current gig? Well, shit… the election only last a year and I ain’t winning and after that I’m out on the stoop. Screw it, I’ll stick around here for a while.”

              Now, maybe no such candidate exists. I really have no way of knowing.

              Report

              • Well, there are (or have been) discussions about whether it’s cool for, say, a sitting senator to run for President/VP at the same time as running for their senatorial seat. (Or congressional, whatever.)

                Sort of a bet-hedging maneuver, given that Senate/House seats tend to be safe-ish.

                The support for this sort of thing tends to wax and wane with the amount of political advantage it offers, though.

                Report

                • Yea, I’d want a blanket rule that applied across all circumstances.

                  I’ve long been bothered by the idea that these folks can continue to collect salaries and hold positions for jobs they just simply aren’t doing. I don’t care which side of the aisle you are on.

                  Report

          • Bobby Jindal is exactly the kind of person I’d like to see having an impact on the national conversation. A primary system’s merit can be judged by how much voice it gives to a guy like him. That’s not to say he ran a great campaign. He took risks to try to display foreign policy strength. But he had to do that, given the way our primary system works. There’s no opportunity to demonstrate one’s expertise.

            Report

          • Actually, Romney is an example of leaving office in order to run for President. You can argue over whether he could have succeeded in running for governor again, sure, but he left office in early 2007 and devoted himself to running in 2008.

            Report

    • IIRC Reagan was publicly hands off during the 1988 primaries, but let it be known that his preference was Bush, to significant effect. When Bush got the nomination, he made a full-throated endorsement of Bush and encouraged other Republicans to get in line behind him (pretty much a swan song performance at the 1988 RNC). But Bush wanted to establish that he was “his own man,” and step out from Reagan’s shadow, so Reagan didn’t do a lot of campaigning. And, although we didn’t know it at the time, Reagan’s ability to do that sort of thing was deteriorating.

      Wasn’t alive for 1960, but the books all say that Ike and Nixon had a good working relationship, and Nixon was a loyal lieutenant and a capable proxy for Ike. There were times Ike’s health became a significant issue and Nixon could have made a play for the brass ring (which we know he wanted) but didn’t. So it’s no surprise that Ike gave more than nominal support for Nixon during the ’60 campaign. More interestingly from that campaign, Kennedy and Truman got into an “inside baseball” type feud that spilled out into the public eye and Truman sat on his hands and did close to zilcho to help Kennedy go on to narrowly defeat Nixon.

      Report

Comments are closed.