Indiana Lieutenant Governor Takes Over
- Indiana Lieutenant Governor Takes Over
The Associated Press
September 9, 2003
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Indiana's lieutenant governor assumed the
duties of acting governor as Gov. Frank O'Bannon lay in critical
condition Tuesday following a stroke.
Doctors on Tuesday said that O'Bannon, 73, had evidence of brain
damage and that it was too soon to say whether he would pull
through. They said he would probably remain in an induced coma for
State officials decided, for now, not to invoke the process spelled
out in the Indiana Constitution for formally transferring authority
to Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan.
``I want to be absolutely certain that Frank cannot discharge his
duties and responsibilities, and I want that confirmed by his staff
and Joe Kernan and his family and the doctors before I initiate the
suggestion the court consider it,'' Senate President Pro Tem Robert
Garton, a Republican.
O'Bannon, a Democrat in his second term, was found in his pajamas,
unconscious and near death, on the floor of his Chicago hotel room
Monday morning. He had suffered a type of stroke that involves
bleeding in the brain.
In Chicago, Northwestern Memorial Hospital spokeswoman Kelly
Sullivan said doctors saw evidence of brain damage, but the extent
of it was not yet clear.
O'Bannon is expected to remain under sedation for at least several
days. Patients with such injuries are often placed in drug-induced
comas to help relieve the pressure on the brain and allow it to rest
Kernan became acting governor under a provision in the state
constitution that allows him to temporarily carry on business
without a formal transfer of power. A formal transfer requires a
petition from legislative leaders and state Supreme Court approval.
The acting governor met with Tim Joyce, the governor's chief of
staff, who said they had discussed how to carry on the office's day-
to-day duties -- everything from reviewing agency vacancies to
``We're doing what Frank O'Bannon is expecting us to do,'' Joyce
Nothing on O'Bannon's previous schedule required immediate action on