McConnell to step down from elective office

By all accounts, he has really thrown himself into the work of running the Office on Aging as lt. gov.

By all accounts, he has really thrown himself into the work of running the Office on Aging as lt. gov.

Wow, it’s kind of hard to imagine the State House without Glenn McConnell.

He was, for so many years, arguably (that being every journalist’s favorite hedge word) the most powerful person in state government, for good or ill.

He’s the guy who was the biggest defender of the Legislative State and barrier to reform, yet led a significant improvement in the way South Carolina chooses judges.

He was the champion of limited government and spending ceilings, yet managed to come up with all that dough for the Hunley.

He was, finally, the man who liked to dress up as an Old School Southern gentleman, who then acted like a real gentleman by giving up power for a point of honor (when he agreed to give up his position in the Senate to occupy the low-status job of lieutenant governor, rather than trying to engineer a way around the rules).

Now he’s giving up that job, for a shot at academe:

COLUMBIA — S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell will not seek another term and instead push to become president at his alma mater, the College of Charleston.

McConnell has said he wanted to make a decision since the college’s presidential search timetable conflicts with the June primary. A new president to succeed George Benson will not be named until around March.

“Any effort to pursue both goals at the same time is simply not an honorable path,” McConnell said in statement Monday. “It would not be fair to good candidates who may want to seek this office. Most of all, it would not be fair to the voters of South Carolina to ask them to support me for lieutenant governor if there is even a chance I might not remain in the campaign. For those reasons, I have decided I will not be a candidate for re-election. And I will instead formally offer my name for consideration to the College of Charleston.”…

The State House is losing a true original…

28 thoughts on “McConnell to step down from elective office

  1. JesseS

    Now who will point to as proof that we are all neo-Confederate baby eaters who are unable to let go of out lust for oppression and racism?

  2. Mark Stewart

    One wishes that he would just leave the stage; and leave the College of Charleston alone.

  3. Doug Ross

    The fix is in. He wouldn’t leave if he didn’t have the votes.

    He is more responsible for the state of South Carolina’s government than any governor.

  4. Karen Pearson

    I strongly disagree with Mr. McConnell on many issues. That said, I suspect that he is a true southern gentleman, and has done the best he could for the state insofar as he understood the best.

    1. Mark Stewart

      That is a very magnanimous characterization, Karen.

      I might say that In the history of South Carolina written 20 years hence, Glenn McConnell will likely rank up there with Ben Tillman in the parthenon of narcissistic boat-anchors who have done the most to have held South Carolina back. In my view, it is sad that people have so little backbone that they can be intimidated into supporting the rise of such a self-centered soul, even after he has left public office.

      That’s not so much a knock on McConnell himself as it is a general condemnation of the type of “public servant” the citizens of SC seem to love to elect – and empower.

      In a righteous world, McConnell would be denied the post he covets. Can’t we just commission a bronze statue of him to place on the statehouse grounds? It would save this state much additional misery…

      1. Doug Ross

        Amen, Mark. It’s people like McConnell who drink deeply from the public trough to further their own personal whims who have held South Carolina back more than figureheads like Sanford or Haley.

      2. Mark Stewart

        pantheon. I missed that autocorrect had changed the word in addition to capitalizing it – which did catch my eye. Parthenon is a pretty funny substitution though, all things considered. . .

      3. Brad Warthen Post author

        Y’all are too rough on McConnell. Karen has it right when she calls him a Southern gentleman who “has done the best he could for the state insofar as he understood the best.”

        Of the two main beefs I have with him, one is something Doug should love him for:
        — His resistance to government restructuring that would have given executive power to the executive, and confined legislative authority to legislative matters.
        — His libertarianism back when it wasn’t cool, especially his advocacy for mechanisms that would have arbitrarily capped state spending. Which is what Doug should like…

        1. Doug Ross

          He’s not even close to being a libertarian.

          Why would I oppose government restructuring? I want an accountable governor, not a shadow government run by a small group of people elected by a small minority of the population.

          I also don’t want to cap state spending, I want it reduced to where only the necessary functions of government are funded. Anyone who thinks spending tax dollars on a hunk of metal like the Hundley based on personal whims is about as far away from being a libertarian as you can get.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            You’re extrapolating from an anecdote.

            He stood out as a limited-government guy back in the pre-Sanford days…

            He was also a traditionalist, which made him an interesting combination — an instinctive conservative who was also a 19th-century liberal.

            He got funding for the Hunley not because he liked spending money on government, but because he wanted to spend money — any kind, public or private — on the Hunley… There’s a difference.

          2. Doug Ross

            How much money has Hugh Leatherman made from selling concrete to the state of South Carolina?

          3. Doug Ross

            Leatherman is still involved… according to The Nerve:

            “Leatherman was president of Florence Concrete Products Inc. when he joined the Senate in 1981 and served in that position until 1993, records show. What the longtime Senate Finance Committee chairman hasn’t publicly revealed in recent years, however, is that he holds stock in the concrete company and therefore continues to have a financial stake in the business.

            In an apparent change of heart, Leatherman listed his stock ownership on his latest required state income-disclosure form filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission on March 26 – less than three weeks after The Nerve submitted a formal open-records request for information about state payments to the company.

            His statement of economic interests, which covered 2012, says that he is a “minority” stockholder in Florence Concrete Products, though it doesn’t give specifics on the amount of stock he owns. The form also lists him as president and owner of another company known as Leacon of Florence Inc., described by other media as a development company; and lists his wife as owner of ERA Leatherman Realty.

            But the senator hasn’t publicly revealed another for-profit company registered under his name since 2006 and named after him – Hugh Leatherman LLC.”

        2. Mark Stewart

          South Carolina is shot through with people who have entered political life to “do what’s best for the state.” But they don’t; they do what is best for themselves. It isn’t the individuals that bother me, however. It is the reality of SC that infuriates me. There is so little economic activity in the state that people practically fight to obtain pieces of the economic pie. This is particularly true with the legislature. People are attracted to elected office in SC for the economic rewards service offers. I don’t believe it is a case of corruption, however. These are (generally speaking) fine, upstanding citizens. But like everyone, they have needs – whether in the benefits and pension aspects or through the ability to “supercharge” their own outside occupations by their office holding.

          Therefore, what is truly bothersome is that the manifestations of this need to squeeze economic benefit from public service is exactly the issue that shackles the state, stalling the economic growth that would ameliorate this paucity of economic activity. The legislative state was born of the realities of a limited economic landscape (though of course early on a rich one). The irony is that the legislative state is itself the most significant impediment to the expanded economic base that would lift all boats, the politically astute included.

          So what bothers me most is that the problem here is us, not them. Collectively, we have abdicated leadership to those who look not to the future, but to the present.

          That’s what bothers me about McConnell. That’s why he would be pleased as punch to become the President of the College of Charleston – and why he is absolutely the wrong person to guide an educational institution (even a state owned one) into the future. His career has been built on consolidating power within the status quo. Nothing about him is about transformational change and expending effort today to ensure a brighter, more prosperous – and intellectually rigorous – tomorrow. His is an altogether different type of “leadership”.

  5. Bryan Caskey

    I wasn’t expecting such hard feelings towards McConnell. If he wants to be president of his alma mater, then good for him. The number one job of college presidents is to ask people for money. I’m sure McConnell has a Rolodex (do people use those anymore?) full of names for exactly that.

    Not even my 67 year old law partner uses a Rolodex. Maybe they’re gone.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Some people, you know, revel in being out of date.

        Take George Will, for instance.

        Once in the early to mid 90s, when we at the newspaper were about to make the transition from mainframe to PCs, I had lunch with him at the Capital City Club (as y’all may know, his wife is from Columbia, so he comes here from time to time). Somehow we got on the subject, and he explained that he didn’t write on ANY kind of computer.

        So did he write on a IBM Selectric typewriter, which is what we used just before mainframes? (Scanners could read the Selectric’s font and evenly spaced lines, but not copy from other typewriters, so that the copy could be easily converted to digital for editing — at my paper, anyway — on Harris 1100 editing machines, and then sent on — in the form of paper punchtape — to be set in cold type by a printer about the size of a small room.)


        So did he use older electric typewriters? No. How about manuals, which would have put him in the era of “His Girl Friday?” Nope.

        He wrote (and probably still writes) his columns longhand, on a legal pad. So how, I wondered, did he make changes, or move copy around? Well, he wrote double-spaced, making his changes in the spaces over and below the original copy. And he wrote each paragraph on a separate page, so that he could swap them around if he chose to, then just rewriting the transitions.

        This was because, of course, he had an assistant to type it for him into a form that could be used in a late-20th century publishing process…

        1. Norm Ivey

          There’s a lot to be said for the kinesthetic aspect of writing something out by hand. I still do occasionally, especially if what I’m trying to write is something that requires more emotion than thought (like love letters and poetry). Maybe it’s just because it slows me down a bit and allows my thoughts grow more organically. If I want to make an academic point or argue, I prefer a computer.

          I taught ELA in grades 6-8 for fourteen years. I required double-spacing on handwritten papers for the same reason as Will. It never occurred to me to put separate paragraphs on separate pages. Good idea, but its time has passed.

        2. bud

          I have never, ever used a regular typewriter to compose something. That is the most barbaric monstrocity ever invented. Writing by hand is far superior to that. But with modern word processor software such as MS Word that does seem very dated. I wonder if Will still does it that way.

  6. Bill

    When they actively vote against gay rights,I do.There are gay SC politicians,who’re far more ‘important’,than McConnell,who’ve routinely voted against ,gays in the military,supported the Defense of Marriage Act,etc.

  7. Kathryn Fenner

    I don’t care if they’re gay or straight, I think everyone should support gay rights!

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