Charleston developer Pat McKinney officially kicked off his campaign for lieutenant governor Monday with some subtle criticisms of his “friend of 25 years,” current Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell.
“I’m not here to attack Lt. Gov. McConnell. He’s a friend,” McKinney said in a brief interview before he announced his candidacy in the June 2014 GOP primary in an Internet broadcast. “But I will say, as I’ve watched things of this state, the last several governors and lieutenant governors have not worked together as cooperatively as effectively as they could.”
During his announcement, which had about 50 “live” viewers online, McKinney called himself a fiscal conservative, saying his first act as lieutenant governor would be to eliminate the office’s security detail and driver.
“There is simply no good reason the lieutenant governor needs a costly security detail and driver,” said McKinney, who once ran the company that developed Kiawah Island. “We have to get away from the mindset that values the trappings of high office and get back to the mindset of the humble public servant.”
In 2012, the state Legislature budgeted $400,000 for a security detail and driver for McConnell. Former Gov. Mark Sanford criticized the spending in an editorial published in several S.C. newspapers. Former SLED chief Robert Stewart later wrote a response defending the security spending.
Attempts to reach McConnell were unsuccessful.
Gov. Nikki Haley of Lexington and McConnell of Charleston, both Republicans, have had their differences.
Two years ago, for instance, then-Senate President Pro Tem McConnell took Haley to court after the governor tried to force the Legislature to reconvene and pass a bill to restructure state government.
But McConnell’s political consultant, Richard Quinn, said the lieutenant governor and Haley have a “good relationship.”
“She (Haley) has said she’s not getting involved in this race, and we believe she’s telling the truth,” Quinn said.
Quinn said McConnell only has security when he is at the State House and on official business as the state’s second-highest executive officer. “Former SLED chief Robert Stewart said it was essential in the age of terror for the lieutenant governor to have such SLED protection,” Quinn said.
The lieutenant governor’s office has two duties: presiding over the state Senate and overseeing the state Office on Aging.
McKinney said he would be an advocate for the state’s seniors, adding his father, a World War II veteran, is in an assisted-living facility in Mount Pleasant. “I understand firsthand how important our seniors are to the citizens of this state.”
But McKinney spent most of his time touting the possibilities of having an experienced businessman working as a partner with the governor to recruit jobs to South Carolina. “Wouldn’t it be neat if we had a governor and lieutenant governor ... who really could work together and who could focus on economic-development issues and small-business issues?”
“It is sad and strange (that) a candidate for lieutenant governor would offer no specific proposals about South Carolina’s disabled adults and the problems of our state’s aging population, which is a key function of the office,” Quinn said.
State Rep. Bakari Sellers of Bamberg also has said he will run for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.
Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.