Lt. Gov. McConnell sworn in, Courson elected as president pro tem

Sen. Courson is sworn in as new president pro tem of the state senate.
Sen. Courson is sworn in as new president pro tem of the state senate.

COLUMBIA, SC (AP/WCSC) - Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell was sworn in as South Carolina's new lieutenant governor on Tuesday, and members of the Senate elected John Courson as new president pro tem.

McConnell took the oath of office shortly after noon Tuesday from Chief Justice Jean Toal.The Charleston Republican reluctantly gives up his powerful position as Senate President Pro Tem and Judiciary Committee chairman to assume a role largely viewed as ceremonial.

Senator Courson, of the 20th district, defeated Senator Harvey Peeler, of the 14th district, by 10 votes to become the new president pro tem for the SC senate.

Senators gave McConnell a standing ovation. Majority Leader Harvey Peeler of Gaffney and Minority Leader John Land of Manning helped McConnell into the lieutenant governor's robe.

He steps into the statewide position following a tumultuous Friday in which former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigned and pleaded guilty to campaign fraud. The Republican was sentenced to five years of probation and 300 hours of public service for campaign finance violations.

McConnell said he's reluctant to step into the role of lieutenant governor and does not want the job. But he said he will do his duty as required by the state constitution.

McConnell has used his knowledge of the constitution to take the governor to task on occasion.

When asked if he thought Nikki Haley is glad that he`s losing his power job in the senate, McConnell replied,"Well, I hope the new president pro tempore will be as focused on the constitution as I was."

In the meantime, there`s always the chance McConnell could decide to run for his old seat again in the senate. It`s up for a vote in November.

"Well, I haven`t ruled it out," McConnell said. "But at this particular time, I don`t know what`s ahead of me."

A special election will take place for McConnell's Charleston County senate seat. Filing would begin at noon on March 30 and end at noon on April 9. The special election would be on July 17.

You can hear more what McConnell had to see on Sharpe Focus Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. on Live 5 Plus.  Live 5 plus can be found over the air on digital channel 5.2 and on Comcast 212, Knology 146, Time Warner 111 and Home Telecom 116.

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