Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell has opted to end his decades-long career in politics and concentrate solely on pursuing the soon-to-be-vacant College of Charleston president's job.
In a message to be distributed statewide later this morning, the Charleston Republican said it would not be right in an election year to pursue two positions at once.
"I have spent the past month weighing the decision about whether to seek re-election or to offer my name as a candidate for the presidency of the College of Charleston," McConnell's statement, obtained by The Post and Courier, reads. "Any effort to pursue both goals at the same time is simply not an honorable path."
His note continued: "It would not be fair to good candidates who may want to seek this office. Most of all, it would not be fair to the voters of South Carolina to ask them to support me for Lt. Governor if there is even a chance I might not remain in the campaign.
"For those reasons, I have decided I will NOT be a candidate for re-election. And I will instead formally offer my name for consideration to the College of Charleston."
Gov. Nikki Haley issued a statement about his decision a short while ago.
"Michael and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Glenn McConnell for the service he has given to South Carolina over the course of a career in public service that spans four decades, and we wish him and his family all the best going forward," it read.
The move is the second time in recent years that McConnell's political power path has been seemingly upset. He previously had been considered one of the most powerful men in state government as Senate president pro tempore. But after predecessor Ken Ard resigned in a 2012 corruption scandal, McConnell was forced to give up that post and follow the state's constitutional succession and become lieutenant governor. His first defense of the seat in a statewide election would have been in the upcoming June GOP primary.
His message said his pursuit of the college presidency will be where he commits his efforts, even as there are no guarantees he will be in the running. McConnell, 66, is a 1969 graduate of the school.
"The most compelling reason I have chosen this course is because of my love for the College of Charleston and my belief that I can be of service to her in facing the complex challenges and capturing the opportunities the future holds.
"If selected, I am fully committed to that task. And for that reason alone, I am not seeking re-election as lieutenant governor to make myself available for consideration by the search committee. Within a few days, I shall be making a formal application for the presidency of the College of Charleston."
The school has hired a private firm to find candidates to follow current President George Benson, who is stepping down in June. The deadline to apply for the president's post is Jan. 14.
McConnell said there is still work for him to do as lieutenant governor for the rest of the year and as the Legislature is scheduled to re-convene next week.
"During the months I have left, I can now focus on the reform proposals our office is developing to help our state's growing population of seniors without being distracted by the demands of a re-election campaign," he wrote.
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.
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