It's official: Glenn McConnell, formerly a state senator from Charleston County, has donned the big purple robe to become South Carolina's lieutenant governor. In his previous role as Senate president pro tempore, McConnell was required by state law to leave his position of power and become the new lieutenant governor when former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard stepped down on Friday. He has now taken on the largely ceremonial position as leader of the Senate and second-in-command to Gov. Nikki Haley. McConnell was sworn in at the Statehouse today.
S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian, ever the fount of quotable quips, had this to say in response to the 31-year senator's move:
Our new lieutenant governor is an avid champion for the Confederate flag. McConnell previously used his powerful position as a state senator to fight Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges' efforts to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse. While Gov. Hodges was able to remove it from the dome, McConnell succeeded in forcing it to remain in its current prominent location on the Statehouse grounds.
Lt. Gov. McConnell also dresses the part, wearing a Confederate uniform and prancing into Civil War reenactments every weekend. He's also a skillful appropriator for the Confederate cause, having secured millions of dollars in tax money to raise and preserve the Hunley submarine, all while voting against necessary education and healthcare funding.
The Republican Party has lost its collective mind, and we ain't just whistlin' Dixie.
On the other hand, S.C. House Minority Leader Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) praised McConnell's decision to honor his responsibility as president pro tem and take the effective demotion to lieutenant governor:
It has become all too common these days that we see Republican politicians make decisions based solely on selfish political calculations, while neglecting to do what is right by the people of South Carolina and her constitution. By making the political sacrifice of becoming Lieutenant Governor, Glenn McConnell has confirmed that he is quite different than most politicians. His decision shows the great love he has for this state, its people, and our constitution. Glenn McConnell is a true statesman who has placed the people of South Carolina ahead of his own political ambitions. The rest of the general assembly could learn a lot from this unselfish public servant.