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Rules to elect a joint South Carolina governor-lt. governor ticket finalized

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File Statehouse exterior (copy)

The South Carolina Statehouse. File/AP

COLUMBIA — South Carolina finally has rules to go along with plans to elect the governor and lieutenant governor together starting this November.

The Senate ended more than five years of debate over the joint ticket with a 39-0 vote Wednesday. Gov. Henry McMaster will sign the bill, his office said.

Voters approved changing the state constitution in 2012 to stop electing the governor and lieutenant governor separately.

But legislators could not reach an agreement on details in choosing the state's top two political leaders until roughly three months before the June primaries. Proposals were delayed over failed efforts to tag on pay hikes for other state officials and judges.

The bill heading to McMaster's desk, however, does not change the lieutenant governor's annual pay of $46,545, which is half of what other statewide elected officers earn because it is considered a part-time position.

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South Carolina's No. 2 seat will become a full-time job next year. The governor makes $106,078 a year.

Last month, the Senate proposed delaying candidate filing and the primary by a month to resolve the impasse. But the S.C. House quickly moved a simplified bill to the Senate to get the joint ticket formalized.

Under the bill, gubernatorial nominees must choose a running mate by Aug. 1 in time for their names to appear on absentee ballots.

In fundraising, the joint ticket is treated as a single candidate and subject to the state maximum contributions of $3,500 per election from a donor.

Even if legislators had failed to pass a set of rules, the S.C. Election Commission was expected to have the authority to carry out voting for a joint ticket.

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