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The office of lieutenant governor of Kentucky has existed under the last three of Kentucky's four constitutions, beginning in 1797. The lieutenant governor serves as governor of Kentucky under circumstances similar to the Vice President of the United States assuming the powers of the presidency. The current Lieutenant Governor is Democrat Jerry Abramson.
The role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Kentucky were greatly altered by a 1992 amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky. Prior to that 1992 amendment to the Constitution of Kentucky the lieutenant governor became acting governor at any time that the governor was outside of the commonwealth. Lieutenant governors Thelma Stovall (1975–1979) and Happy Chandler (1931–1935) engaged in high profile use of their powers as acting governor when the elected governor was out of the commonwealth.
Also prior to the 1992 amendment of the Constitution of Kentucky, the lieutenant governor of Kentucky presided over the Kentucky Senate, casting a vote only in the event of a tie. The 1992 constitutional amendment supplanted the office of President pro tempore of the Kentucky Senate with the new office of President of the Kentucky Senate as presiding officer and abolished the lieutenant governor's duties involving the Senate. As a result, the lieutenant governor has no ongoing constitutional duties, and his or her traditional use of the Old Governor's Mansion as an official residence has been phased out.
Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Kentucky run together on party slates. This is the result of the same 1992 constitutional amendment; prior to that the candidates for both offices ran separately and, as a result, sometimes the two elected to those offices were not allies and did not work together. This was famously highlighted when then-Lt. Gov. A. B. "Happy" Chandler in 1935 and then-Lt. Gov. Thelma Stovall in 1978 called the Kentucky General Assembly into session to enact legislation that was not advocated by the governors at the time (Ruby Laffoon and Julian Carroll, respectively). In 1967 a Republican, Louie Nunn, was elected governor and a Democrat, Wendell H. Ford, was elected lieutenant governor; they served together in that way for four years.
Some accounts also indicate that Kentucky's Confederate government had one lieutenant governor, Horatio F. Simrall, who was elected at the Russellville Convention in 1861. Simrall fled to Mississippi shortly thereafter.
As of August 2014[update], nine former lieutenant governors were alive, the oldest being Wendell H. Ford (1967–1971, born 1924). The most recent death of a former lieutenant governor was that of Wilson W. Wyatt (1959–1963), on June 11, 1996.
|Lt. Governor||Lt. Gubernatorial term||Date of birth|
|Wendell H. Ford||1967–1971||September 8, 1924|
|Julian M. Carroll||1971–1974||April 16, 1931|
|Martha Layne Collins||1979–1983||December 7, 1936|
|Steve Beshear||1983–1987||September 21, 1944|
|Brereton C. Jones||1987–1991||June 27, 1939|
|Paul E. Patton||1991–1995||May 26, 1937|
|Steve Henry||1995–2003||October 8, 1953|
|Steve Pence||2003–2007||December 22, 1953|
|Daniel Mongiardo||2007–2011||July 4, 1960|