Lt. Gov. Race

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell’s decision -- to run or not -- coming Monday

ashain@thestate.comJanuary 3, 2014 

— Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell will announce Monday whether he will run for a four-year term or concentrate on trying to become the next president of his alma mater, the College of Charleston, his campaign adviser said Friday.

The Charleston Republican has made up his mind and is drafting an announcement over the weekend, political strategist Richard Quinn said.

Quinn would not reveal the decision, saying McConnell has surprised him with last-minute reversals in the past.

In 2012, McConnell, then the leader of the state Senate, was elevated to lieutenant governor by constitutional mandate after Ken Ard, R-Florence, resigned in an ethics scandal.

McConnell considered resigning his post as Senate leader, president pro tempore, to avoid taking over the less powerful job of lieutenant governorship, which has a role in helping the state’s aging population.

Since taking the office, however, McConnell has said he has liked working on solutions to what he calls the “tsunami” of South Carolinians reaching age 60.

Still, McConnell also covets the prospect of leading the College of Charleston, which is trying to become more of a research university like the University of South Carolina and Clemson University. A dorm on the Charleston campus is named after McConnell and several Lowcountry lawmakers have backed his candidacy for the college post.

College of Charleston president P. George Benson has announced he will step down in June, and a search committee is taking applications to succeed Benson through Jan. 14. A list of finalists is scheduled to come a month later.

McConnell, 65, had said he wanted to make a decision about his future by the end of 2013.

The College of Charleston’s timetable to name its next president conflicts with the June Republican primary, where McConnell already would face at least one challenger, Charleston developer Pat McKinney. McKinney is an ally of Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, who has sometimes clashed with McConnell.

If he chose to try for the college job, McConnell said he wanted to give another candidate enough time to mount a campaign.

Meanwhile, state Rep. Ralph Norman, R-York, said Thursday that he would not run for lieutenant governor after meeting with McKinney last week.

Norman told CN2 this week that McKinney was a “great guy.”

“He and I are both business people. ... We have similar goals and similar things that we wanted to accomplish,” Norman told the news channel. “In my mind, I’ve never wanted a job if somebody else can do it as good or better. With him, I think he will do that, and I will get behind him.”

State. Rep. Bakari Sellers, a lawyer from Bamberg County, is the only Democrat who has announced a run for lieutenant governor.

This is the last time a candidate for lieutenant governor will run alone on the ballot. Starting in 2018, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor will run on a combined ballot, as candidates for president and vice president do now.

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