With apologies to Pete Townshend:
Over the last 38½ years, the United States has had seven presidents, South Carolina has had seven governors, The Citadel has had nine head football coaches and Charleston has had one mayor.
So who will replace Joe Riley when he steps down less than 19 months from now?
Riley's run Charleston much longer than Richard J. Daley ran Chicago (21 years), Pope John Paul II ran the Vatican (26 years) and Josef Stalin ran the Soviet Union (28 years).
OK, so John McKissick can beat that. He's now heading into his 63rd season as Summerville High School football coach.
Still, Charlestonians must brace for an epochal shift at the top.
Before overly fretting about it, though, remember that change is inevitable - including change of who's in charge.
And this small sampling of past succession crises confirms that such changes aren't always all bad:
1553: Considerable "who's the next English monarch?" confusion ensued after kooky King Edward VI died. Then after his sister Mary became his successor, she was bloody rough on Protestants. But death cut her queenly tenure short five years later, giving the throne to the first Queen Elizabeth, a Prot who inspired the glorious 1588 repulse of the Spanish Armada.
1963: The Hulk, hard of head, body and feelings, bitterly quit on his superhero comrades in the comic-book classic Avengers No. 2. Fortunately, an able, amiable replacement arrived in Avengers No. 4: Captain America.
1965: Donald Russell resigned as S.C. governor to get a better job. Lt. Gov. Robert McNair also got a better job in this deal, taking over as governor in exchange for appointing Russell to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Olin Johnston. McNair then won the 1966 governor's race. But Russell was routed in the 1966 Senate special election Democratic primary by Fritz Hollings.
What's in a name?
1970-71: Two months after U.S. House powerhouse Mendel Rivers died, another Mendel (Davis) won the 1st Congressional District special election Democratic primary to replace him. The first name helped Davis, who had worked as an aide to Rivers, defeat Palmer Gaillard (who at that point had been Charleston mayor for only 12 years) and Tommy Hartnett (who won the 1980 1st District general election as a Republican). Two months after the '71 primary, Davis beat already-Republican James B. Edwards in the general election.
1981: While President Ronald Reagan was lying wounded in a hospital and Vice President George H.W. Bush was flying back to Washington from Texas, Secretary of State Alexander Haig told reporters in the White House: "I am in control here." But "The Gipper" soon was back in control, the Evil Empire was soon on the run, and it was soon "Morning in America."
2002: Strom Thurmond didn't seek another Senate term after 48 years on that job, which he left at age 100. Lindsey Graham, who succeeded Thurmond by beating Democrat Alex Sanders, will finish his second term and win his third later this year. But Graham also has won George Will's derisive 2011 casting of him as "Sancho Panza to [John] McCain's Don Quixote."
2004: Hollings didn't seek another term after a mere 38 years in the Senate, which he left at age 83. Jim DeMint won the election to replace him, defeating, among others, Republicans David Beasley, Thomas Ravenel and Charlie Condon and Democrat Inez Tenenbaum.
2012-13: DeMint quit on us with four years left in his second term to become Heritage Foundation president. Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Tim Scott to replace him. Later this year, the former Charleston County Council chairman will become the first black person to win a statewide general election in our state since 1872. Not bad for a politician thumped by Robert Ford in a 1996 S.C. Senate race.
No holds barred
2014: Last week, "The Authority" (married couple "Triple H," aka "The Game," and Stephanie McMahon) stripped Daniel "Yes!" Bryan of his World Wrestling Entertainment championship, citing his debilitating neck injury.
That vacancy will be filled by the winner of the eight-man World Heavyweight Championship Ladder Match at WWE's June 29 Money in the Bank pay-per-view in Boston. The final two competitors made that title-match field on this week's "Monday Night Raw": Roman Reigns qualified by winning a 19-man Battle Royal, and John Cena earned his spot by beating Kane in a Stretcher Match.
Also on "Raw," Ms. McMahon (or is it Mrs. Triple H?) expressed sympathy to a packed house of overwrought fans at Cleveland's Quicken Loans Arena, even as they harshly booed her.
As Stephanie kindly put it: "We can't imagine how disconcerting it's been for you not to have had a WWE world heavyweight champion."
So if you find the notion of a new Charleston mayor disconcerting, hang in there.
We'll soon stage a Battle Royal of our own to crown a worthy winner of that title.
Or will it be a Ladder Match?
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is email@example.com.
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