South Carolina senators elected former State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, to become lieutenant governor Wednesday afternoon.
He replaces Henry McMaster, who was sworn in as governor Tuesday evening following Nikki Haley’s confirmation as United Nations ambassador. Since the state constitution requires the Senate president pro tempore then move into the vacant lieutenant governor’s position, senators temporarily elected Bryant as president pro tem so he could take the office.
Bryant has spent the past 12 years as the senator for Senate District 3, which covers the northern half of Anderson County, including Anderson, Pendleton and Powdersville.
The lieutenant governor’s position has had an unusual amount of turnover ever since former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned to face ethics charges in March 2012. Then-Senate President pro tempore Glenn McConnell replaced him for two years until he resigned to become College of Charleston president. Senators voted for then-State Sen. Yancey McGill to fill out the rest of McConnell’s term. McMaster won the office in 2014 after McGill did not seek reelection.
Bryant’s home newspaper the Anderson Independent Mail reports that a field of candidates has already said they will run for Bryant’s former state Senate seat. According to the newspaper, three Republicans have said they are running. They include former Pendleton Mayor Carol Burdette, Powdersville businessman and unsuccessful U.S. House candidate Richard Cash and former state Rep. John Tucker, Jr., of Anderson.
Former Clemson football coach Danny Ford and state Rep. Anne Thayer, from Anderson, also are considering getting into the race.
Bryant is known as a social conservative who pushes for more limited state government. A pharmacist in his non-political life, Bryant has previously said he hopes to be an effective leader of the Lt. Gov.’s Office on Aging.