Photo courtesy from The State
Article by Gina Smith, The State
Longtime Columbia state Sen. John Courson was elected to the top post in the state Senate Tuesday, but the political musical chairs may not be over.
The 67-year-old Republican defeated Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, by a 27-17 vote for the job of Senate president pro tempore, one of the most powerful in the Legislature.
Courson succeeds the Senate’s longtime leader Glenn McConnell. McConnell was sworn in Tuesday by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal as South Carolina’s new lieutenant governor, replacing Ken Ard who resigned last week.
While Republicans control the Senate — holding 27 of 46 seats — Democrats supplied Courson’s margin of victory after Republicans senators split between Courson and Peeler.
Democratic senators, who voted 18-1 for Courson, had expressed concern that Peeler, the Senate’s Republican leader, can be too partisan. Courson, chairman of the Senate’s Education Committee, also appealed to Democrats for his history of supporting public education and the University of South Carolina.
Peeler won Republican senators by a 2-to-1 margin.
“I feel very honored,” said Courson, who has been a member of the Senate since 1985 and is an insurance executive at Keenan Suggs Insurance in Columbia. “This position is elected by senators themselves so it is a real honor to have my fellow senators support me. But I’m also pleased that I received bipartisan support.”
Courson promised to be fair to Republican and Democrat senators alike, following the lead of former Senate leader McConnell, who vacated that post and lost his Senate seat when he was sworn in as lieutenant governor.
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