California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will have an opportunity to nominate a new lieutenant governor, as the current officeholder, John Garamendi, won a special election Tuesday for the U.S. House.

The lieutenant governor’s office is elected separately from the governor’s, and Californians split their tickets in 2006, electing Democrat Garamendi while re-electing Republican Schwarzenegger.

Garamendi won the 10th Congressional District race to replace Democrat Ellen Tauscher, who took a job in the Obama administration.

The governor now has a chance to appoint a fellow Republican as his lieutenant, but Schwarzenegger may not find the choice to be simple.

His nominee must be confirmed by the Legislature. At least five current state senators are expected to run for lieutenant governor next year, and they are unlikely to want a potential competitor elevated to the office before next year’s election.

And the majority Democrats may not have much incentive to play ball.

According to published reports, as long as the office remains unfilled, Garamendi’s chief of staff can fill the office’s few official duties, such as chairing the State Lands Commission and sitting on the governing boards of the two state university systems.

Without a lieutenant governor, the next person in the line of succession is the Senate president pro tempore, Democrat Darrell Steinberg.

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