One of the interesting things about politics in South Carolina is that we elect the Lt. Governor separately from the Governor. It is a tradition rooted in the belief that the President of the Senate of South Carolina should be chosen by the people of South Carolina as a whole.
The duties as President of the South Carolina Senate are ceremonial. Real work by the next Lt. Governor will be done with the Office of Aging and using the bully pulpit of prominence on issues. Then there is the other issue to consider. When the Governor can’t be found or is out of state or resigns, the Lt. Governor either acts as Governor or becomes Governor, respectfully.
Before you think that can not happen, look at history. In the summer of 1994, then Governor Carroll Campbell was out of the state when tornadoes ripped through Lexington County. Then Lt. Governor Nick Theodore acted as Governor on a number of measures until Campbell was back. Further, Lt. Governor Robert McNair became Governor in 1965 when Governor Donald Russell resigned to become a United States Senator. In 2009, Governor Mark Sanford went AWOL from South Carolina for several days, leaving the state in limbo. Had a state emergency occurred, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer would have called the shots, so to speak.
Thus, the office of Lt. Governor is a serious one. Republican Ken Ard and Democrat Ashley Cooper are the men that would be Governor in the event of resignation of absence. Further, they are two men vying to be the second highest ranking state official in South Carolina. That deserves a look at them.
Ashley Cooper, by all accounts is decent man, dedicated to his family and to South Carolina. He served with distinction as staffer for former Senator Ernest Hollings and as an attorney. Plus, being named Ashley Cooper from Charleston has to have some Charleston appeal. That said, Cooper has no experience at getting things done. Further, his campaign has been mired in the mud. It seems like Cooper is running for Mayor of Charleston, not Lt. Governor.
That brings VUI to the Republican nominee, Ken Ard. Ard worked hard to get his party’s nomination in a tough statewide battle for the nomination. Ard is a proven businessman and local political leader. Ard knows government where it works the best and the worst: the county level. As a member of the Florence County Council, Ard worked with Democrats and Republicans alike to get things done and bring jobs to the Florence area in the midst of a bad economy. In short, Ard worked with different people to sell Florence and Pee Dee region.
Frankly, that is what South Carolina needs in a Lt. Governor. Ken Ard will be a great salesman for South Carolina, and he has the proven leadership to take over the office of Governor should it fall on him. Let’s face it, the Haley detractors see resignation or impeachment. Haley fans see the Vice Presidency in 2012. Either way, South Carolina needs a competent and experienced Lt. Governor. We will have that with Ken Ard. Their will be no feelings of uneasiness about a man like Ard becoming Governor in such situations.
But, even if such does not occur, South Carolina will be well served by Ken Ard doing for South Carolina what he did for Florence County. VUI strongly endorses Ken Ard for Lt. Governor and wishes Ashley Cooper all the best the in his future endeavors.