McConnell's momentous decision
Glenn McConnell has demonstrated the seriousness of his intent to become the College of Charleston's next president by announcing that he won't be a candidate for lieutenant governor this November. In doing so, he has taken the right course for the state, which would have been deprived of candidates for the lieutenant governor's seat had Mr. McConnell decided to hedge his bets for continued employment.
Given the dedication that Mr. McConnell has demonstrated since he took over the Office on Aging as lieutenant governor, his departure will be a big loss to the state and its elderly population.
Mr. McConnell has taken the weak position of lieutenant governor and, through the Office on Aging, transformed it into a major agent for change and reform. His comprehensive efforts on behalf of South Carolina's elderly have been predicated on his findings, attained through months of research and statewide meetings, regarding what they need, and what they want. And what most of the elderly really want is to stay in their own homes as long as possible.
Lt. Gov. McConnell has been able to strengthen their prospects for doing so by obtaining additional budget support for home respite services. He was able to obtain support for that $3 million allocation in a tight budget year by the respect he commands in the Legislature.
Meanwhile, he is prepared to submit a comprehensive plan for improvements to state services for the elderly in the current session.
Recall that Mr. McConnell left one of the state's most powerful positions as Senate president pro tempore to assume the lieutenant governor's job after Ken Ard resigned because of a scandal involving his misuse of campaign funds.
Mr. McConnell did so not because he wanted to serve as lieutenant governor, but because the state constitution clearly put the Senate leader in the line of succession for the seat.
His decision Monday will eventually help clarify the electoral landscape for the lieutenant governor's race.
Lt. Gov. McConnell has given himself a few months to promote his legislative program for the elderly, but his pending departure from the position is bound to diminish the momentum for those reforms.
His entry into the competition to lead the College of Charleston immediately makes him the front-runner for that seat, given his long record of service, his unblemished reputation and the political realities inherent in a legislatively dominated state.
There is some concern with having a politician assume the college job, instead of a professional academic, but there is certainly precedence for that at C of C and elsewhere.
We'd be surprised if the Board of Trustees doesn't view state government's loss as the college's gain.