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It matters who is lieutenant governor

Sen. Sam Brownback's choice of state Sen. Jeff Colyer, R-Overland Park, as his running mate in the governor's race may not seem all that important — a case of one conservative teaming with another. But it might matter a lot, should Brownback win the job and then decide to try another presidential run in 2012 or 2016, or do as then-Gov. Kathleen Sebelius did last year and join a new president's Cabinet. As demonstrated by the promotion of Mark Parkinson (in photo) to governor after just two years as lieutenant governor, Kansans cannot assume that their lieutenant governors will be irrelevant. There still may be times when lieutenant governors' official duties are so few that they feel like returning to their old jobs, as then-Lt. Gov. Paul Dugan of Wichita did during Gov. John Carlin's first term. Or that their most important duty is to stand atop the Capitol and watch for approaching glaciers, as then-Lt. Gov. Shelby Smith of Wichita once joked of his time in the administration of Gov. Robert Bennett. But running mates also need to be qualified to step in and serve as the state's CEO.