SC politics: Former White House chief of staff withdraws from College of Charleston search

March 4, 2014 

Former White House chief of staff withdraws from College of Charleston search

Then there were three.

Former White House chief of staff Andrew Card removed his named from the list of finalists for president of the College of Charleston, the school said Tuesday. Card also was considered a candidate to lead his alma mater, the University of South Carolina, in 2008.

“It is not uncommon for candidates to stand down from consideration in a presidential search, and we thank Mr. Card for his interest,” said Greg Padgett, chairman of the trustees board and presidential search committee. “We are pleased with the experience and qualifications of our remaining finalists, and we look forward to having our campus community meet them during their campus visits.”

The remaining finalists are: retired Harvard University professor Dennis Encarnation, a Charleston alum; Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, another alum; and former University of Southern Mississippi president Martha Saunders.

Another unnamed finalist withdrew from consideration over the weekend.

The finalists have been whittled from a pool of more than 100 applicants.

College of Charleston trustees did not announce a timetable for making a choice to head the college of nearly 12,000 students. Finalists will meet with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. Outgoing president George Benson leaves June 30.

Andrew Shain

Senate bill hopes to quash election-board challenges

The Senate Judiciary Committee advanced a bill Tuesday aimed at staving off potential lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of county voter registration and elections boards.

The door for those challenges was opened last year, the senators said, when a S.C. Circuit Court judge ruled the 2011 merger of Richland County’s voter registration and elections boards violated the state Constitution.

Judge Thomas Cooper took issue with the way the Richland boards were combined through a county-specific piece of legislation.

The bill that the Senate advanced Tuesday, sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, would reconstitute all counties’ combined elections and voter registration boards. The changes would apply statewide and, therefore, eliminate any question about whether the boards were created through single-county acts, Martin said.

The Judiciary Committee voted 17-3 to advance the bill, but the bill was reported out of committee with an objection, which could impede its progress on the Senate floor.

The General Assembly began merging counties’ voter registration and elections boards in the 1970s through county-specific acts. But the Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that legislation applying to single counties is unconstitutional.

In 2008, the General Assembly passed legislation codifying the previous mergers into state law. Since then, however, the General Assembly has used single-county acts to merge voter registration and elections operations in Richland and Clarendon counties.

The consequences of a challenge could be far greater than in 2012 when a lawsuit knocked hundreds of candidates off the ballot for improperly filed paperwork.

“If they (county boards) are struck down as being unconstitutional, elections could be voided,” said Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston. “Really there is nothing more important or pressing than this.”

Jamie Self

S.C. House education chairman retiring

The education chairman of the S.C. House will not seek re-election.

Rep. Phil Owens said Tuesday it is time for him to retire. The 62-year-old Easley Republican was first elected to the House 12 years ago.

Other House members not seeking re-election this year include Republican Reps. Liston Barfield of Conway, Andy Patrick of Hilton Head Island, B.R. Skelton of Six Mile, and Roland Smith of Warrenville; and Democratic Rep. Ted Vick of Chesterfield.

The Associated Press

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