South Carolina’s lieutenant governor plans to step down next week.
Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell told the Charleston Post & Courier on Thursday that he will leave office a little earlier than he originally expected. McConnell had originally planned to resign his post at the end of the session next month and become the new president at the College of Charleston on July 1.
But he said Thursday that a likely contentious vote involving his future employer next week sped up the decision.
Part of the lieutenant governor’s responsibilities include presiding over the state Senate. That chamber is currently embroiled in debate over whether or not to create a new research school at College of Charleston. Two powerful senators made it clear Thursday they did not like how quickly the bill reached the Senate floor with little vetting in committee.
The potential floor fight puts McConnell in a precarious position. He would need to rule on any questions of rules during the debate and could cast the deciding vote if the measure comes down to a tie. He told the Post & Courier that he does not want to become a “lightning rod” from the potential conflict of interest.
McConnell did not say which day he would resign his office, only that it would happen “next week.” His departure leaves the lieutenant governor’s office vacant for the second time in two years. Under the state constitution, the Senate President pro tempore is supposed to become the next lieutenant governor when that happens (McConnell himself resigned his Senate post to become lieutenant governor in 2012).
However current President Pro Tempore Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, does not want the job. He notes there is only a week remaining in the regular legislative session. It is not unprecedented for the lieutenant governor’s office to be left vacant in South Carolina, although the last time it occurred was in the late 1960s.