If Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigns -- or is removed from office -- state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, said Thursday that he would like to replace him.
Ard is the focus of a state Grand Jury investigation for ethics laws violations that is now entering its ninth month. Thursday morning, Ard declined to comment as he arrived at the State House. When asked if he had anything he wanted to tell the public, Ard said, “Not a thing.”
Courson -- who represents District 20 in northwest Richland County -- is in his 27th year in the state Senate. State law requires that the Senate president pro tem become lieutenant governor if that office becomes vacant. Currently, the Senate president is state Sen. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston.
But if McConnell became lieutenant governor, he would be giving up one of the most powerful positions in state government for a mostly ceremonial role. Instead, McConnell could resign as president pro tem, allowing state senators to elect Courson or another senator, who would become lieutenant governor if Ard resigns.
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Courson said he would accept the nomination but only to finish the remainder of Ard’s term. He said he would not seek re-election.
“We’ve had a problem in the past dealing with constitutional officers vacating their position for judicial reasons,” Courson said, referring to former state Agricultural Commissioner Charlie Sharpe and former state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, both Republicans, were both indicted. “It’s important for the people of the state to look at the lieutenant governor ... as someone who is not trying to propel to something else. It would restore some confidence in the governance of the Palmetto State.”
Courson said he has not talked with McConnell about the possibility of a job swap “this year.” He said he is waiting for McConnell to make his move. However, Courson said several senators have talked with him about the scenario.
Thursday, McConnell said he has not thought about the possibility of resigning as president pro tem. “I only deal with what’s real,” he said, as opposed to dealing with speculation that Ard will quit.
The state Senate convenes Thursday at 11 a.m.