Hugh Leatherman, Stalwart South Carolina Senator, Dies at 90

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COLUMBIA, S.C.—State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and astir almighty authorities lawmaker, died Friday astatine the property of 90.

Leatherman died astatine his location successful Florence, his bureau said, aft being diagnosed with an inoperable cancer.

As helium entered hospice attraction past month, Leatherman’s unit began notifying lawmakers that the nonagenarian Republican had been hospitalized with terrible abdominal pain, and that doctors discovered the crab portion removing parts of his intestine.

“Ever the stubborn optimist,” Leatherman continued to work, drafting legislation, and receiving fund briefings for the upcoming legislative session, according to a household statement.

“While his passing brings america large sorrow, we instrumentality solace and joyousness knowing that up until his past days, helium was progressive successful the Florence community, and continued serving the radical of Florence and South Carolina,” they wrote.

Leatherman was successful his 11th word and among the longest-serving lawmakers successful South Carolina’s Legislature. First elected to the Senate successful 1980 arsenic a Democrat, helium aboriginal ran unsuccessfully for politician earlier switching parties successful the 1990s, 1 of a fig of lawmakers who did truthful arsenic Republicans gained dozens of seats successful Congress.

Leatherman soon assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, and successful a authorities wherever the politician has little control, Leatherman was agelong considered South Carolina’s astir almighty person for his dominance implicit the authorities budget.

Leatherman besides sat connected a fig of fiscal oversight boards, including the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee. A caller larboard terminal successful Charleston bears his name.

South Carolina Ports terminal named for authorities   Sen. Hugh Leatherman successful  North Charleston, S.C. A motion marks the tract of a caller South Carolina Ports Authority terminal named for longtime authorities Sen. Hugh Leatherman successful North Charleston, S.C., connected Oct. 25, 2021. (Meg Kinnard/AP Photo)

Leatherman played a cardinal relation successful gathering up the state’s concern economy, including backing a monolithic taxation inducement bundle that helped lure Boeing to the state. For years, the longtime lawmaker fielded disapproval for however overmuch authorities backing was directed toward his location district, arsenic good arsenic millions successful authorities contracts fixed to the factual institution helium founded, and from which helium continued to gully a salary.

Never shy to skirmish with those successful his ain party, Leatherman had contentious relationships with Republican governors and others seeking to emergence successful the GOP.

When Gov. Mark Sanford successful 2009 threatened to cull hundreds of millions of dollars successful national stimulus money, oregon usage it to wage down authorities debt, Leatherman wrote that helium hoped the politician “will recognize the seriousness of the harm to our radical if we don’t get that money” and called the indebtedness substitution petition “foolish.”

In 2016, Gov. Nikki Haley actively campaigned against Leatherman, endorsing his GOP superior hostile and saying “there is not a taxation that helium hasn’t tried to raise.”

Two years later, helium became a predominant people for GOP gubernatorial contender John Warren, who criticized Leatherman arsenic not being blimpish capable for the state. In a runoff statement against Gov. Henry McMaster—whom Leatherman yet endorsed—Warren referred to the longtime lawmaker arsenic among the “rotten apples” helium would enactment to basal retired of the Legislature if elected.

For a time, Leatherman presided implicit his enclosure arsenic Senate president pro tempore. Some chap Republicans, including Sen. Shane Massey, said that relation combined with Leatherman’s committee enactment posts enactment “way excessively overmuch power” successful the hands of a azygous lawmaker.

Leatherman concisely stepped distant from that presumption successful 2017 erstwhile then-Lt. Gov. McMaster was elevated to the governorship pursuing Haley’s departure to articulation the Trump administration.

As Senate leader, Leatherman would person been adjacent successful enactment to presume the state’s No. 2 position, according to the authorities constitution. But, opting not to instrumentality connected what past was a mostly ceremonial role, helium stepped down from the post, allowing different lawmaker to go lieutenant politician earlier reassuming the president pro tem slot a time later.

Massey called the determination “a shameless and evident crippled of philharmonic chairs.”

After a 2018 regularisation alteration meant that a lawmaker couldn’t pb the enclosure and besides seat a committee, Leatherman opted to support his Finance chairmanship alternatively than question the caller station of Senate president, mounting down the presiding gavel for good.

“This authorities is steeped successful tradition,” helium said successful 2019, reflecting connected the continuity of the enclosure successful which helium had sat for much than 4 decades. “We don’t alteration often.”

The Associated Press

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