Tuesday, January 7, 2014
By Glenn McConnell
In January of 2012, I began a new year as President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate – a position I had held for over a decade. And about this time two years ago, I was preparing for the new Session of the General Assembly.
But the hand of Providence forced me to make a difficult decision. As we all know, the incumbent Lieutenant Governor resigned on the 12th of March two years ago.
At that time, I had absolutely no desire to be Lieutenant Governor. But I had taken an oath to stand ready to replace the Lieutenant Governor if necessary. And I was honor-bound to fulfill that oath. So, I became South Carolina’s 89th Lieutenant Governor.
With the Office on Aging in my office, over the past two years, I have been working on a strategic plan to help our growing population of seniors and adults with disabilities live their lives with dignity and independence. That has been my focus. And when filing for public office opens on March 15 of this year, my plan has always been to offer for re-election.
But once again, the hand of Providence has intervened. The College of Charleston announced a new president would soon be chosen to replace President Benson when he steps down at the end of June.
The College of Charleston is my alma mater. And that historic institution that means so much to so many is at a crossroads. When the Board of Trustees announced a search for a new president I said publicly I was interested.
The College of Charleston has always been close to my heart, and I believe I have the background and qualifications the College needs at this unique moment in her history.
Therefore I had to face a decision: should I apply for the presidency of my alma mater? And if I did, should I seek re-election as Lt. Governor at the same time?
Filing for public office in the 2014 elections does not begin until late March. I could easily wait for the outcome of the search process before the Lieutenant Governor’s campaign officially begins in April of this year.
However, I have decided any effort to pursue both positions at the same time is simply not an honorable path.
If I am to offer my name for consideration as president of the College, it would not be fair, at the same time, to launch a campaign for re-election.
It would not be fair to the Senate to begin a new session not knowing whether their presiding officer is fully committed to serving a new term.
It would not be fair to good candidates who may want to seek this office but who, out of respect for me, will not enter the race until I make a final decision.
And most of all, it would not be fair to the voters to ask them to support me for Lt. Governor if there is even a chance I might not remain in the campaign.
For all those reasons, I have decided I will NOT be a candidate for re-election. And I will instead offer my name for consideration for the presidency of the College of Charleston.
I sincerely believe this decision is also in the best interest of the work I am now doing as Lt. Governor. This means I can now focus 100% on the proposals my office is drafting to deal with the growing crisis of aging in South Carolina, without being distracted by a re-election campaign. And I am confident the voters of South Carolina will select a qualified leader to continue that cause.
But the most compelling reason I have chosen this path is because of my love for the College of Charleston and my belief that I can be of service to her during a time of tremendous challenges as well as exciting opportunities.
If selected, I am fully committed to that task. For that reason alone, I am not seeking re-election as Lt. Governor to make myself available for consideration by the Search Committee. Within a few days, I shall be making a formal application for the presidency of the College of Charleston.
I have no idea whether or not I will be chosen. I am aware that I may end up with nothing at all. I only know that this is the honorable course for me to take. And I also know as a matter of faith that the right thing to do is always the best thing to do.