Adjutant general post should be appointed
Thursday, June 05, 2014 12:00 AM
While this newspaper is not in the business of endorsing candidates during the election cycles, we do find ourselves believing the incumbent adjutant general, Robert Livingston Jr., is a good example of why this is one state office that should be appointed rather than elected.
Livingston and Florence resident William Breazeale, will face each other in Tuesday’s primary election. Livingston has joined Gov. Nikki Haley in supporting House Bill 3540, which establishes the qualifications and processes the governor will apply in appointing the adjutant general, provided the state’s voters approve the constitutional amendment that would remove that post from among our state’s many elected offices, making it a position appointed by the governor. Voters will make that decision during the General Election on Nov. 4.
Adjutant general is not among the state’s best known offices. Ask people on the street what the adjutant general does and many will simply shrug their shoulders and say they do not know. In short, the adjutant general is head of the state’s military department, the National Guard. One would reasonably expect the person chosen to head the Guard would be someone equipped with a solid military background. President Obama has no military experience as commander in chief, but he does have his military chiefs of staff to turn to and rely on. The governor of our state -- in fact, our state’s residents -- should expect no less. But electing this position potentially opens the door to our state electing someone with mediocre or possibly even no real military background to lead the state’s military department.
Breazeale is campaigning on a platform to retain the election of the adjutant general, and that’s wrong. Of the 50 states in this union, ours is the only one that continues to elect the head of its military department. We are not always wrong in the Palmetto State, but we are not always right, either. Moving to allow for the proper appointment of the adjutant general is but one of several recent steps to get our state out the mire it has been in for far too many years. If the voters pass the referendum in November, the adjutant general would be appointed by the governor with the aid, advice and consent of the state Senate beginning in 2018.
That same year, South Carolinians will begin electing its chief officers, the governor and lieutenant governor, on the same ticket. We are light years behind other states that long ago established the governor and lieutenant governor would run and be elected as a team. Doing otherwise simply defies logic. And while it is true that Gov. Carroll Campbell, a Republican, and Lt. Gov. Nick Theodore, a Democrat, served fairly well together, our state deserves continuity in the leadership its voters choose every four years.
We can appreciate that Breazeale keeps to his belief the adjutant general should remain an elected position in this state, but we can far better appreciate the logic, the rationale behind making that post an appointed one.