Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s abrupt resignation announcement has left the state government with a bit of a succession controversy.

There’s no doubt about who will become governor: Sean Parnell, the current lieutenant governor, will take over the state’s top office July 26, when Palin steps down. Parnell, like Palin, is a Republican. He immediately announced he will run for a full term in 2010.

But there is a question about who will become lieutenant governor.

Under state law, the governor selects a cabinet official to be in line for the lieutenant governor’s office if it becomes vacant. That choice is ratified by the Legislature.

But Palin, in her sudden resignation announcement last Friday, threw a curve ball, announcing that the state’s National Guard commander, Lieut. Gen. Craig Campbell, “will assume his role as lieutenant governor.”

The problem is that Campbell has not formally been designated as successor.

Earlier this year, lawmakers confirmed Palin’s choice of Joe Schmidt, the commissioner of corrections, to be next in line for the lieutenant governor’s position.

According to published reports, several lawmakers said that the line of succession could not be changed without the Legislature’s input.

That might require a special session, as the Legislature’s next regular session doesn’t begin until next year.

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