A Charleston Republican said Monday that he will challenge Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell’s re-election bid next year.
Retired Charleston real estate developer Patrick McKinney declared his candidacy in a Ustream video announcement Monday. McKinney, a strong campaign supporter of Gov. Nikki Haley, said he wants to bring a business perspective to the position.
“State government sorely needs an effective voice from the private sector, instead of largely or exclusively from government sectors,” he said in the message. McKinney recently retired as a managing partner with Kiawah Island Partners, and worked to develop the company’s titular vacation and resort island. He has not previously run for political office, although he was appointed to the State Ports Authority’s board of directors in 2011.
South Carolina’s lieutenant governor has a largely ceremonial role in presiding over the state Senate. The position also runs South Carolina’s Office on Aging. Last year, South Carolina voters approved a referendum that would require the governor and lieutenant governor run on the same ticket for the 2018 election. Republican Bill Connor (who lost in the GOP primary three years ago) and Democratic State Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark) are also running for the position.
McConnell left his previous position as Senate President pro tempore and stepped into his current office after former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned to face ethics charges in 2012. Adding another twist to the race is the fact that McConnell is also rumored as a potential candidate to be the College of Charleston’s next president.
McKinney said he appreciates the job McConnell has done since taking office, but said he wants the governor and lieutenant governor to work as a team. While Haley and McConnell are not openly hostile to each other, they rarely appear in public together or partner on any initiatives. McConnell frequently clashed with Haley in his previous position as Senate President pro tempore— most notably on the governor’s efforts to restructure state government and a state permit her administration granted that would have allowed dredging in the Savannah River.
“I simply don’t think we need to wait four years more for there to be developed a cooperative partnership between the governor and lieutenant governor,” he told South Carolina Radio Network shortly after his announcement.
McKinney led a conservative political action committee ReformSC that backed Haley during the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary. He also served on the governor’s transition team after she won election later that year. Haley appointed McKinney to his position on the Ports Authority board in 2011.
However, McKinney says the governor did not have a hand in his decision to run. “She didn’t put me up to it and I really have no expectation that she would endorse my candidacy,” he said. “I’ve got to win this race on my own. So I’m out to earn the support of every voter… and that includes the governor.”
McKinney surprised many political observers when campaign documents revealed he had outraised all of his opponents in the filing period which began in July, even though he had not yet made his candidacy official.