CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell announced Monday he would not be seeking re-election to his office, and would instead be devoting himself to obtaining the College of Charleston presidency.
He said in a statement that seeking both offices would not be an "honorable path."
"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 Lt. Governor if there is even a chance I might not remain in the campaign," he said.
McConnell said that is why he was focusing only on the CofC presidency, even though there was no guarantee he would be successful.
"The most compelling reason I have chosen this course is because of my love for the College of Charleston and my belief that I can be of service to her in facing the complex challenges and capturing the opportunities the future holds," he said.
He said he would make a formal application to the College in the coming days.
"Michael and I would like to take this opportunity to thank Glenn McConnell for the service he has given to South Carolina over the course of a career in public service that spans four decades, and we wish him and his family all the best going forward," said Nikki Haley after the announcement.
Rep. Bakari Sellers said McConnell's exit from politics is a sign of the "ultra fringe tea party" that has taken over the state GOP. Sellers said he was going to seek the Lt. Governor's office.
"Moderate Republicans continue to be exiled from their party by far right tea party leaders who are out of touch with the issues facing real South Carolinians. I am running for Lt. Governor to help the hard-working families of our state and to put an end to political extremism that has created gridlock at the statehouse," he said in a statement.
Sellers represents District 90 that covers parts of Bamberg, Barwell and Colleton counties.
The state GOP chair, Matt Moore, also issued a statement saying the state would miss his leadership.
"Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell has dedicated over thirty years of his life to improving South Carolina. His tireless leadership and love for our state will be missed," he said. "The South Carolina Republican Party and its grassroots will work tirelessly to make sure a Republican remains in the Lt. Governor's office in 2015 and beyond."
State Treasurer Curtis Loftis said McConnell's impact on the state would be felt for years to come.
"As a former director of the state Office on Aging, I have been impressed by Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell's commitment to assist our seniors. Lt. Governor McConnell has honorably served the people of this state for more than forty years, and while he has chosen to now take a different path of service his impact on our state will be felt for years to come," he said.
"As long as I've known and served with Glenn McConnell, his decisions are never based on what path is easiest but rather the path he truly believes is right. His service to our state has been honorable, always providing a steady hand of leadership. The kind of leadership that, given the right opportunity to continue on, would greatly benefit the Lowcountry," said Speaker Bobby Harrell.
Sen. Lindsey Graham called McConnell a strong conservative voice for South Carolina.
"Glenn was instrumental in laying the groundwork for Boeing to come to South Carolina and for years provided steady leadership in the South Carolina State Senate. In the years to come, I'm sure he will continue to contribute to South Carolina and I wish him well in all future endeavors," he said.
The former Senate president pro tem was arguably the state's most powerful lawmaker when the resignation of Lt. Gov. Ken Ard caused McConnell to leave his beloved Senate and assume a job largely viewed as ceremonial.
This year is the last year voters will separately elect a lieutenant governor. In 2018, gubernatorial nominees will pick their own running mate.