South Carolina voters will get to decide whether or not the governor and lieutenant governor can run on the same ticket.
By a 97-16 vote, the South Carolina House passed a resolution that proposes amending the state Constitution– allowing for a joint governor-lt. governor ticket. That means the question will now be up to voters on Election Day this November. Right now, South Carolina elects the lieutenant governor separately from the governor.
“Much like the president and vice-president… it would allow the governor and lieutenant governor to be operating off the same sheet of music, so to speak,” said Rep. Tom Young (R-Aiken), who sponsored the resolution. The House has passed multiple versions of the restructuring bill in recent years, but each had died in the Senate until now.
Senators approved the resolution last month, but added a late amendment that would not allow the change to occur until 2018, even if voters approve it this year. That angered Governor Nikki Haley– who had been seeking the change before her potential re-election bid in 2014. Haley took to Facebook at the time to criticize the Senate, telling her supporters, “You deserve reform now, not on their timetable.”
Drawing Haley’s ire was the fact that Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) — who has sparred with the Governor very publicly on numerous occasions– was the one who proposed the 2018 amendment. Knotts said he was only trying to take the politics out of the legislation by making sure it would not affect anyone currently holding the offices (Haley’s two terms would theoretically expire after 2018).
However, the governor’s press secretary and lawmakers confirmed Haley asked lawmakers to concur with the Senate version anyway.
“There were concerns that, if the House did not concur, considering where we are in the session… that the Senate may not get back to this bill and it would again die in the process,” Young said, “And we would have to start over again next year.”
16 Democrats voted against the bill, saying voters should have the ability to pick both offices.