COLUMBIA -The man who would replace S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell has no plans to take the job if the lieutenant governor steps down before his term ends.
McConnell was selected Saturday as the College of Charleston's next president, a post he is expected to officially take up starting around July 1. The lieutenant governor's position is a mostly powerless post that rules on procedural matters in the Senate and oversees the Office on Aging. Most importantly, it is the person who succeeds the governor if he or she is unable to fulfill the duties of the post.
Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, is the Senate's president pro tempore, a leadership position that is one of the most powerful in state government and the next in line to be lieutenant governor. He said Monday he has no plans to take the post if and when McConnell resigns to take over at the college.
It wouldn't be the first time South Carolina went without a lieutenant governor. In the past 120 years, the lieutenant governor's position has gone vacant six times for various reasons, Courson said.
There is little the lieutenant governor does after the end of the legislative session, which is expected to finish up the first week of June.
"There's nothing to preside over," Courson said. He also said he has no plans to run statewide for the post.
McConnell, on the other hand, would not be required to resign as lieutenant governor and "may serve his term out," Courson said.
McConnell said Monday that he isn't yet sure how he make the transition from one job to the next.
Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said it would make little political sense for Courson to ascend to the lieutenant governor's position. He would go from one of the most powerful people in state government to one of the least.
Still, McConnell had taken that post after the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard. Campsen had told McConnell at the time that he believed the state constitution required the Senate president pro tempore to take the lieutenant governor's spot.
At the time, McConnell supporters in the Senate floated the idea of having McConnell resign his Senate leadership position temporarily and having another senator fill that spot long enough for him to step up to the lieutenant governor's post.
McConnell rejected "gaming" the constitution in that fashion, Campsen said.
Courson said he has consulted with constitutional scholars on the issue who say there is no "mandate" for him to step into the lieutenant governor's position.
Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.
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