With Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell telling the Charleston Post & Courier Thursday that he plans to step down next week, the question arises: Who will replace him as South Carolina’s Number 2 position?
But it appears real question is: Will anyone replace him?
Under South Carolina’s constitution, the Senate President Pro Tempore is required to resign his position and become lieutenant governor once the office becomes vacant. McConnell himself did exactly that in 2012. But the man currently holding that post says he won’t make the same commitment only five months before Election Day.
“I would prefer to remain in the South Carolina Senate,” Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, said when reached Friday. “The vacancy would be temporary. The primaries to replace the lieutenant governor will be taking place in less than 10 days (June 10). Then you’ve got the fall elections.”
Four Republicans (Columbia businessman Mike Campbell, former state Attorney General Henry McMaster, Charleston real estate developer Pat McKinney, pastor Ray Moore) and one Democrat (State Rep. Bakari Sellers) are seeking to replace McConnell this November.
But Gov. Nikki Haley says South Carolina shouldn’t be without a lieutenant governor between June and next January. According to the Associated Press, Haley told reporters in Charleston that Courson may be required to step into the state’s soon-to-be vacant seat.
Courson said there is precedence for the Lt. Governor’s office to be vacant for a few months. No one held the position in the late 1960s when a similar situation arose. He said there is no need for him to take the largely-ceremonial office. The lieutenant governor’s primary duty is presiding over the Senate, which will likely adjourn for the year after June. He adds that the Senate pro tempore is still the next in line should something happen to the governor.
The lieutenant governor also oversees the state Office on Aging.