State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, is considering a run for lieutenant governor after incumbent Glenn McConnell recently set his sights on an education position in Charleston.
Norman, who represents District 48 in York County, said he is “strong, strongly” considering the position after McConnell began eying the president’s office at the College of Charleston. McConnell has not formally announced his intentions, however.
Of McConnell, Norman said, “I got worried he was not going to run,” adding that he thinks McConnell has done a great job.
Norman has served in the state House from 2005-2006 and from 2009 to the present. He campaigned against U.S. House Rep. John Spratt, losing to the Democratic incumbent in 2006.
The 2014 race will be the last election cycle where South Carolina voters will elect a lieutenant governor separately. Starting in 2018, candidates for lieutenant governor and governor will be on the same ticket, following a decision by voters in 2010.
Among those already considering a run at Norman’s state House seat is York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant, who is a close friend of the legislator.
Bryant, 62, has served as York County’s sheriff nearly 18 years, a position that has been uncontested for the last four election cycles. He has 42 years of law enforcement experience.
“I love being involved in politics,” said Bryant, adding that he has been eying a position in the state House for several years. “It’s something I always said that when I retired from being sheriff of York County and I felt like a change was needed, I felt like I would serve the community very well.”
Bryant said his extensive law enforcement experience would give him an insight into how legislation is carried out.
“I know there’s a lot more to being a member of the House than criminal law, but government's always been a big, big interest of mine,” he said.
But Bryant said he would only consider running for the position if Norman leaves his House seat vacant.
The pool of candidates for lieutenant governor already includes Republican Pat McKinney and Democrat Bakari Sellers, who in October announced their intentions to run.
Charleston developer McKinney has strong ties with Gov. Nikki Haley, who appointed him to his current post at the State Ports Authority. He also served on the governor’s re-election campaign finance team and recently received a formal endorsement by U.S. House Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, for the upcoming race.
According to state election filings, McKinney has raised more than $500,000 for his campaign, and Sellers has raised more than $70,000.
“I think competition is good for the system,” Norman said. He said he is planning to meet with Haley and McKinney this week and will decide whether to run by early January.
Scott Huffmon, professor of political science at Winthrop University, said both Norman and McKinney face a similar hurdle of broadening their name recognition outside their regional areas and being able to manage a statewide campaign.
“It’s a different beast,” Huffmon said, adding that Norman’s previous campaigns have relied on his reputation and focused on meet-and-greets, a strategy that might not translate to a larger scale. “You can’t run that kind of campaign statewide.”
Huffman said that regardless of who ends up lieutenant governor, the last statewide election for the position will provide all candidates an opportunity to broaden their appeal.