Mormon Lieutenant Governor

A week and a half ago Maryland’s Republican governor Bob Ehrlich selected Kristen Cox, 36-year-old BYU alumna and former missionary to Brazil, as his running mate for his coming re-election bid. The current lieutenant governor, Michael Steele, a Catholic who attends mass regularly, is running for the U.S. Senate. According to the Baltimore Sun, Lt. Gov. Steele opposes abortion and the death penalty which are supported by Gov. Ehrlich. Sister Cox, an the other hand, is a team player. On abortion she says, “Personally I don’t condone it; however, it is the law of the land” which sounds something like John Kerry’s position. She also supports Ehrlich’s so far fruitless efforts to bring slot machines to Maryland, though she’s also personally opposed to gambling.

It all brings back to mind a couple other Mormon lieutenant gubernatorial hopefuls from 1978.

That was the year Devoe Heaton, father of eight, and Myron Leavitt, father of eleven, each won his party’s primary and faced each other in November to see who would become lieutenant governor of Nevada. It was a close race, and Brother Leavitt, the Democrat, won, and the license plate bearing only the numeral “2” went on the family van. Now, lieutenant governor is an office without a lot to do, but one thing it is does is break ties in the state senate. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment would come before the next session of the legislature, and Myron Leavitt promised that if called upon to break a tie, he would follow the results of a referendum question on the matter. Question No. 5 appeared on the ballot along with the choice between Brother Heaton and Brother Leavitt and asked “Do you recommend that the Nevada Legislature ratify the following proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, commonly known as the equal rights amendment?” Two-thirds of Nevada voters answered “No.” In the state senate, ratification did tie, and Myron Leavitt, voting against ratification, broke the tie. In other tie votes, Leavitt voted to retain capital punishment and for a restrictive abortion bill. Do they still make Democrats like that anywhere? In some states, it’s hard to even find Republicans like that. (See first paragraph above.)

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About John Mansfield

Mansfield in the desertA third-generation southern Nevadan, I have lived in exile most of my life in such places as Los Alamos, Baltimore, Los Angeles, the western suburbs of Detroit, and currently the northern suburbs of Washington, D.C. I work as a fluid dynamics engineer. I was baptized at age twelve in the font of the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake Center, and on my nineteenth birthday I received the endowment in the St. George Temple. I served as a missionary mostly in the Patagonia of Argentina from 1985 to 1987. My true calling in the Church seems to be working with Cub Scouts, whom I have served in different capacities in four states most years since 1992. (My oldest boy turned eight in 2004.) I also currently teach Sunday School to the thirteen-year-olds. I hold degrees from two universities named for men who died in the 1870s, the Brigham Young University and the Johns Hopkins University. My wife is Elizabeth Pack Mansfield, who comes from New Mexico's north central mountains and studied molecular biology at the same two schools I attended. We have four sons, whose care and admonition, along with care of my aged father, require much of Elizabeth's time. She currently serves the Church as Mia-Maid advisor, ward music chairman, and choir director, and plays violin whenever she can. One day, I would like to make shoes.

12 thoughts on “Mormon Lieutenant Governor

  1. Huzzah for sensible, pragmatic Democrats! And Republicans for that matter…

  2. Apparently I was in Sister Cox’s ward until the beginning of the year. It was a very big ward so I don’t remember seeing her but my wife says she was very smart and a very good Relief Society teacher.

  3. “I personally oppose the fundamentals of the Democratic Party, but I am a card-carrying member of it.”

    Doesn’t make much sense to me.

  4. In the case of Kristen Cox, I wonder how many of her positions are the Maryland Republican party’s positions and how many are her own. I could imagine a scenario where she’s being told to support these positions as to not cause any waves before the election, and after all she’s the Lt Gov, not the Gov.

  5. I was in Utah when Ehrlich made his pick, or I might not have known until now that she is Mormon. More attention has been paid in the media to her blindness.

  6. My boss asked me if I knew her, so there is some coverage of her Mormonness here in MD. I haven’t actually read any of the local press reaction to the pick.

  7. If the “right” to abortion is indeed the law of the land, as decreed by nine old men in black robes some 30 years ago, what difference does it make what a lieutenant governor has to say about it? Short of a reversal of Roe v. Wade by the court, or the adoption of a constitutional amendment, there’s not much an elected official can do about it.

  8. “On abortion she says, ‘Personally I don’t condone it; however, it is the law of the land,’ which sounds something like John Kerry’s position.”

    Sounds exactly like Mitt Romney’s former position, as well.

  9. Don’t you understand Mark B? There are only two issues to consider when voting, SSM and abortion. It doesn’t matter what office people are running for, we must know their position on these two most important issues!

  10. “Personally I don’t condone it; however, it is the law of the land”

    I wish someone would explain to me what this means when said by a candidate for lieutenant governor. Is there some issue that she would potentially face as a lieutenant governor or governor that would be resolved by reference to this non-position statement?

  11. Well, state laws, passed by legislatures and signed by governors, are what determine how restrictive abortion will be in a state and are what end up before the U.S. Supreme Court, so the position of a governor and his lieutenant on such matters seems pretty relevant to the role of abortion in a state. Further, officials in the more influential positions start out in lower-rung positions usually, so who we put in those lower-rung positions can influence who is available to run for the top slots later. Lieutenant governor is an office, though, that seldom leads anywhere.

    Also, slot machine gambling is an ongoing issue in Maryland.

  12. As an afterward, Brother Heaton served as U.S. Attorney for southern Nevada. In 1982, I would sit next to him in the Las Vegas Nevada Central Stake’s conference on a Sunday we shared speaking assignments. A few weeks later in Costa Rica, he slipped off a cliff and died.

    Myron Leavitt ran for governor in 1982, but lost in the primary. He became district court judge in 1984, won a seat on the state supreme court in 1998, and died in 2004. He was a lineman on the legendary unscored-upon ’44 Las Vegas High School football team and state champion in the 100- and 220-yard dashes.

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