Ryberg in running for new post

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, might get the new Transportation agency post.

COLUMBIA - Gov. Mark Sanford on Wednesday signed into law a bill that puts the Department of Transportation under his Cabinet.

Now he'll need a secretary of transportation to run the agency.

And Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, a Sanford ally, "certainly, certainly" is being considered for the post, the governor said.

Mr. Ryberg was the chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee until earlier this year, when he took over as chairman of the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.

The Aiken senator, though, has another position in mind: treasurer.

Mr. Sanford suspended state Treasurer Thomas Ravenel last week after Mr. Ravenel was indicted on federal cocaine charges. The governor named Columbia attorney Ken Wingate as a short-term replacement.

If Mr. Ravenel resigns or is convicted, however, the General Assembly would choose a permanent successor.

Mr. Ryberg ran unsuccessfully for treasurer in 2002 and 2006.

"That burning desire has not changed," he said. "I'm not angling for anything. I think I am fully qualified to be state treasurer, and I would be honored if the General Assembly would elect me."

Privately, some lawmakers have said they would not support Mr. Ryberg, who often disagrees with fellow legislators and will openly rebuke them for their votes.

But, Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, said: "He does have support."

A vote on a new state treasurer, though, likely is months away, unless Mr. Ravenel resigns.

Asked whether Mr. Ravenel should resign, Mr. Sanford paused, then said, "One is innocent until proven guilty in our system. I think we need to get a little further down the pike."

Mr. Ravenel's arraignment is scheduled for July 9. Mr. Sanford will likely name a new DOT chief before a treasurer is chosen.

Mr. Ryberg said he has had "none, zero, nada" conversations with the governor about being named head of DOT.

Accepting either job would force him to resign his Senate position, setting up a special election to fill the rest of his term, which expires next year. The special election would be held 18 weeks after the seat becomes vacant.

Reach Kirsten Singleton at (803) 414-6611 or kirsten.singleton@morris.com.