The Temp

How Rodney Ellis runs Texas—sometimes.

Who was the state’s last Democratic governor? If you think it was Ann Richards, think again. The correct answer is right there in your copy of the Texas constitution. Whenever the governor is out of state, it says in Article IV, Section 16, the lieutenant governor assumes the duties and powers of his office. Whenever the lieutenant governor is out of state, notes Article III, Section 9, the president pro tempore of the Texas Senate assumes the duties and powers of his office. So, in the event that both the guv and the lite guv (colloquially speaking) are out of state, the president pro tem is the one in charge—and, lately, that hasn’t been just a hypothetical situation. With George W. Bush campaigning for president all over the country and Rick Perry called away on his share of official and political business (and known to take the occasional vacation with his family), the reins of power have been handed more than a few times to the man who occupies the number

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