COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH / AP) -- South Carolina Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell says he will be the next lieutenant governor in South Carolina.
The Charleston Republican will take over from Ken Ard, who resigned Friday morning amid a criminal investigation into whether he spent campaign money on personal items.
In a statement about the move McConnell said, "I have a moral obligation to my oath of office and to the constitution of this state. It is an obligation that compels me to do the right thing no matter how difficult it may be to me personally"Related Stories Lt. Gov. Ken Ard resigns Official: Lt. Gov. Ard lied during ethics probe Lt. Gov. Ard faces nearly 100 ethics charges Lt. Gov. fined by ethics commission for finance records
McConnell's announcement two hours after Ard stepped down was a surprise. McConnell has been in the Senate for 31 years and leader of the body for the past decade, amassing a vast amount of power.
â??We look forward to a great partnership with Senator McConnell and to continuing the great progress weâ??ve made in the arena of jobs and economic development as well as restructuring our government to better serve the citizens,â?? said Gov. Nikki Haley in a statement released after McConnell's announcement.
Some senators though he might step aside briefly and let someone else become lieutenant governor, which has little power except to preside over the Senate.
"This has been one of the most difficult decisions I have faced," McConnell added. "The greatest honor of my career has been representing the people of District 41 in the South Carolina Senate. But I came here with a deep commitment to the Constitution, and I will not abandon it today."
McConnell is expected to take the oath of office on Tuesday, triggering an election in the Senate for a new President Pro Tempore.
"It's not an office I sought. It's not an office I ran for, but part of my duties in the legislative branch put me in the position I'm in," said McConnell.
A special election will be held to fill McConnell's senate seat. A primary will be held on May 22. A general election is scheduled for July 10.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)