South Carolina now has a Democrat in the lieutenant governor’s office for the first time in two decades, after State Sen. Yancey McGill of Kingstree was sworn in to the office Wednesday.
McGill replaced Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, who resigned on Wednesday to become the College of Charleston’s new president. McGill was unanimously elected as Senate President Pro Tempore, putting him in line for the job once McConnell resigned moments later.
These seats we sit in belong to the citizens of this state,” McGill said after his election. “This position that Lt. Gov. McConnell holds, it belongs to the citizens of this state… And that was the first rule that we always understood when we ran for public office.”
McGill will only hold the seat for six months before voters elect a replacement this fall. He is the first Democrat to hold the office since 1995 and the first to hold any of South Carolina’s nine constitutional offices since early January 2011.
Gov. Haley was in attendance for McGill’s swearing in. She congratulated him afterwards. “The importance for South Carolina to have a lieutenant governor cannot be understated and I want to personally thank Yancey McGill for making this sacrifice,” she said in a statement. “For 25 years, he has served this state and his district with great distinction and I know his legacy as a statesman will only grow in his new role.”
Republicans had blocked McGill’s nomination on Tuesday, saying they wanted time to find their own nominee for the post. However, no Republican was nominated on Wednesday.
McConnell’s resignation had been expected ever since he was named the next College of Charleston president in March. However, it was not clear for months if anyone would replace him. The state constitution requires the president pro tempore to ascend to the lieutenant governor’s position once the office becomes vacant, but previous Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson was unwilling to permanently give up his Senate seat for just six months in the Lt. Gov.’s office. Courson resigned the leadership post earlier this month.
McGill will lose a Senate seat he’s held for 26 years by taking the new post. He narrowly survived reelection to that seat in 2012, defeating a Democratic challenger by just 80 votes.