State Senate Republicans on Tuesday delayed a vote that would likely choose the next lieutenant governor in South Carolina.
Current Republican Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell plans to leave for the College of Charleston presidency once his replacement is chosen. Under the state constitution, the Senate President Pro Tempore is required to then assume the lieutenant governor’s post once it becomes vacant.
But previous President Pro Tem John Courson resigned two weeks ago to avoid giving up his powerful Senate post for the largely ceremonial position. The only man who has expressed publicly his interest in the job is Democratic State Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Williamsburg.
McGill had been hoping for a vote on Tuesday. He declined to speak on the record afterwards.
Senators need to elect a new president pro tempore to replace McConnell when he does resign. But Republicans appear unwilling to give up the Lieutenant Governor’s Office — a post they’ve occupied for 20 years — just yet. By a narrow 23-22 margin, Republicans voted to adjourn on Tuesday minutes before the Senate President Pro Tempore race would have appeared on the agenda. Five Republicans sided with all Democrats against adjourning. The vote was surprising because the chamber had voted 23-22 just moments earlier to take up the President Pro Tem’s election (Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, defected).
State Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said one Republican senator is potentially interested in the job. But he would not say who.
“Look, I’m a Republican,” he said after the vote. “And I’ve got the possibility of electing a Republican as the next lieutenant governor. He just asked to think about it, talk with his family and friends overnight. I’m going to try and honor that request, if I can.”
But Democrats accused Republicans of wasting time for political reasons. “I didn’t think it would get to the point where we’d have lost a whole day and not get any work done because of a fight that’s on the other side of the aisle,” State Sen. John Scott, D-Richland said.
Whoever becomes lieutenant governor would have to give up their Senate seat to hold the position for just six months, when voters would elect a replacement.