South Carolinians awoke Friday morning to find a Democrat in the governor’s office of this staunchly “Republican” state for the first time in nearly a dozen years.

But it will only last for a few hours …

Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill – who “ascended” to the lieutenant governor’s position last month – took over for first-term “Republican” Nikki Haley beginning at 7:00 a.m. EDT.  He will hold the position of “acting governor” for a few hours before relinquishing his authority back to Haley.

What’s going on?  According to a Haley spokesperson, the governor is having surgery for “radial nerve compression” – or carpal tunnel.

McGill served for more than a quarter century in the State Senate before becoming lieutenant governor in June when “Republican” Glenn McConnell resigned the post to become president of the College of Charleston.  He will hold the post until next January, when the winner of this fall’s lieutenant gubernatorial election is sworn in.

The lieutenant governor’s office in South Carolina is a part-time, largely ceremonial position that wields virtually no real power.  That’s why S.C. Sen. John Courson (RINO-S.C.) resigned his powerful post as president of the S.C. Senate rather than  “ascend” to the position on a short-term basis.

McGill took the job because he is an endangered white rural Democrat who was unlikely to win another term in the State Senate.