With Gov. Jerry Brown heading to Mexico on Sunday and other office-holders preparing for out-of-state trips of their own, it might help to consult the Constitution – or one very detailed memorandum from the governor’s office – to know exactly who is in charge of the state next week and when.
The memorandum, provided to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and legislative leaders Friday by Jonathan Renner, Brown’s legal affairs secretary, informs Newsom he will be acting governor from Sunday afternoon until Tuesday morning, which is routine.
But Brown will still be in Mexico when Newsom himself leaves California on Tuesday, so Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the next in line, will act as governor until the following day.
That takes us to Wednesday, when Brown is scheduled to return. But not until later in the day – after Steinberg, too, leaves the state. In his absence, Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, will fill in.
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Some states have had to go even further down the chain of succession to get an acting governor.
In July 1993, then-Nevada Secretary of State Cheryl Lau became acting governor for a few hours after the governor, lieutenant governor, Senate leader, and Assembly speaker were all out of the state on vacation or traveling on state business.
In California next week, Atkins would appear to be the end of the line. A spokesman said she has no plans to leave town.