Columbia, SC (WLTX) The job of lieutenant governor is the second-highest in South Carolina, according to the state constitution. But the job is going to be vacant for the last half of the year.
Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell just signed a contract to become president of the College of Charleston starting July 1.
Normally, the Senate president pro tempore becomes lt. governor when the job is vacant, which is how McConnell became lt. governor in the first place. But Senate president pro tem John Courson, R-Columbia says he's not going to step into the lt. governor's jot. Gov. Glenn McConnell just signed a contract to become president of the College of Charleston starting July 1.
"It would be an honor to serve in that position, but frankly I think I could, in my situation, better serve the state in staying where I am," he says.
He says since the Senate will not be in session while the position is vacant, it shouldn't cause any problems. Voters will choose a new lt. governor in November who will be sworn in next January, right after lawmakers go back into session.
The lt. governor also oversees the state Office on Aging. Courson says the office is run by professional staff, and he plans to meet with them and McConnell to see if there are any needs the agency has until a new lt. governor is sworn in.
There is precedence for the president pro tem not becoming lt. governor. The job has been vacant for lengthy periods six times since 1895. The most recent was a two-year vacancy from 1965 to '67.
Courson says the vacancy also raises the question of whether the job of lt. governor is even needed. And, in fact, this is the last year that voters will elect a lt. governor separately. Voters in 2012 approved changing the state constitution so candidates for lt. governor will run on the same ticket as candidates for governor.
That will begin with the 2018 elections.
After that, the lt. governor will no longer preside over the Senate. The Senate will instead elect its own presiding officer. The governor would choose someone to fill any vacancy in the lt. governor's office.