South Carolina appeared Tuesday night to be ending its reign as the only state in the nation that elects its adjutant general.
A constitutional amendment on Tuesday’s ballot that requires the adjutant general to be appointed by the governor with approval by the state Senate beginning in 2018 seemed headed for victory. A constitutional amendment to allow charitable raffles also passed.
The amendment had the support from both the Republican and Democratic Party leadership and incumbent Adjutant General Robert Livingston, a two-star general who ran unopposed in Tuesday’s election.
“I think it’s going to professionalize the selection of the adjutant general,” Livingston said. “What’s key are the qualifications (set out in the amendment). That will ensure that the adjutant general is a good and professional leader.”
If the measure passes, the Legislature will set the length of the term, duties, pay and qualifications for the office and will lay out procedures for making the appointment. The rules also will outline how a commander could be removed from office.
The main argument against continuing to elect the adjutant general, who commands the S.C. National Guard, was that there are no requirements for candidates for the office, including whether they have served in the military or not.
Another was that as S.C. Guard commander, he or she could potentially exert inappropriate influence over S.C. Guard soldiers during elections, and troops who question the leadership of the adjutant general or donate to or campaign for an opponent could harm their careers.
Incumbents also could solicit donations from the troops they command, advocates of an appointed commander argued, and threaten recriminations if they don’t comply.
Opponents of an elected adjutant general argued that the commander should be independent of the other branches of government so as not to be beholden to other politicians.