|117th Governor of South Carolina|
|Assumed office |
January 24, 2017
|Lieutenant||Kevin L. Bryant|
|Preceded by||Nikki Haley|
|91st Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina|
January 14, 2015 – January 24, 2017
|Preceded by||Yancey McGill|
|Succeeded by||Kevin L. Bryant|
|50th Attorney General of South Carolina|
January 15, 2003 – January 12, 2011
|Preceded by||Charlie Condon|
|Succeeded by||Alan Wilson|
|Chair of the |
South Carolina Republican Party
May 1993 – May 2002
|Preceded by||Barry Wynn|
|Succeeded by||Katon Dawson|
|United States Attorney for the |
District of South Carolina
June 5, 1981 – July 1, 1985
|Preceded by||Thomas Simpson|
|Succeeded by||Vinton Lide|
Henry Dargan McMaster
May 27, 1947
Columbia, South Carolina, U.S.
Peggy Anderson (m. 1978)
|Education||University of South Carolina (BA, JD)|
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||1969–1975|
|Unit||United States Army Reserve|
Born in Columbia, South Carolina, McMaster graduated from the University of South Carolina with a bachelor's in history in 1969 and graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1973. He then worked for U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond, in private practice and as a federal prosecutor. Appointed United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina by President Ronald Reagan in 1981, he came to attention for investigating South Carolina marijuana smugglers in Operation Jackpot. McMaster was the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in 1986, losing to incumbent Democrat Fritz Hollings. He was then defeated for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina by Democrat Nick Theodore in 1990.
In 1991, McMaster was appointed to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and joined the Board of Directors of the non-profit South Carolina Policy Council. He chaired the South Carolina Republican Party from 1993 to 2002. McMaster resigned as Chairman in 2002 to successfully run for Attorney General of South Carolina. He was re-elected in 2006 and ran for governor in 2010, but was defeated by Nikki Haley in the Republican primary. In 2011, McMaster was appointed to the South Carolina Ports Authority by Governor Haley. He left that office in 2015 after being elected the 91st lieutenant governor of South Carolina. McMaster succeeded to the office of governor when Haley resigned to become the United States Ambassador to the United Nations.
McMaster was born on May 27, 1947, in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the eldest son of John Gregg and Ida Dargan (Pet) McMaster. He received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of South Carolina in 1969. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Kappa Alpha Order and the South Carolina Student Legislature. In 1973, he graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law where he served on the Editorial Board of the South Carolina Law Review. Later that year, he was admitted to the Richland County Bar Association of the South Carolina Bar. He served in the United States Army Reserves, receiving his honorable discharge in 1975.
Upon graduation from law school, McMaster worked as a Legislative Assistant to U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond in Washington, D.C. until 1974, when he joined the firm of Tompkins and McMaster. He was admitted to practice before the federal Court of Claims in 1974, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 1975 and in 1978, upon motion from Thurmond, the Supreme Court of the United States. For almost 29 years, McMaster practiced law, both as a federal prosecutor and in private practice, having represented clients in the state and federal courts, trial and appellate.
Early political careerEdit
United States AttorneyEdit
Upon the recommendation of Thurmond, McMaster was nominated by President Ronald Reagan as United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina in 1981—Reagan's first nomination for U.S. Attorney. McMaster was confirmed by the Senate on May 21, 1981. He headed the South Carolina Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee from 1981 to 1985.
During his tenure, McMaster created the federal drug task force Operation Jackpot to investigate South Carolina marijuana smugglers. Operation Jackpot ultimately arrested more than 100 men and women for crimes related to marijuana and hashish trafficking. McMaster held numerous press conferences during the trial and earned publicity through his many interviews and comments. His actions were criticized as transparently political, with journalist Lee Bandy writing that "no one can recall any other U.S. attorney being so public-relations conscious" and noting that McMaster had produced more press conferences and news releases than all of his predecessors combined.
McMaster completed his four-year term as U.S. Attorney on December 31, 1985.
Election bids; state appointmentsEdit
In 1986, after considering races for South Carolina Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, McMaster won a spirited primary for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate. He beat Henry Jordan by 27,696 votes (53.41%) to 24,164 (46.60%). In the general election, McMaster was defeated in a landslide by four-term Democratic incumbent Ernest Hollings, losing by 463,354 votes (63.10%) to 261,394 (35.60%).
In 1990, McMaster ran for Lieutenant Governor. He defeated Sherry Shealy Martschink in the Republican primary by 49,463 votes (51.46%) to 46,660 (48.54%), but was again defeated by the Democratic incumbent. He received 309,038 votes (41.19%) to Nick Theodore's 440,844 (58.75%).
In 1991, he was appointed by Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. and confirmed by the South Carolina Senate to serve on the state's Commission on Higher Education. He also served on the Board of Directors of the non-profit South Carolina Policy Council from 1991 through 2003, serving as board chairman from 1992 until 1993.
South Carolina Republican Party ChairEdit
On May 8, 1993, McMaster was elected Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. He was subsequently re-elected by the State Republican Convention in 1996, 1998 and 2000. In this capacity, he also served as a member of the Republican National Committee from 1993 until 2002. Under McMaster's chairmanship, the Republican Party captured the Governorship, several statewide offices and (with party switches) the State House of Representatives in 1994, and finally captured control of the powerful State Senate in 2000. Under McMaster, the South Carolina GOP also ran highly contentious and successful presidential primaries in 1996 (won by Bob Dole) and 2000 (won by George W. Bush). On March 28, 2002, McMaster announced his resignation as party chairman so that he run for Attorney General in 2002.
Attorney General of South CarolinaEdit
In 2002 McMaster ran for Attorney General. He placed first in the Republican primary with 126,164 votes (42.41%), ahead of State Senator and former judge Larry Richter and attorney Jon E. Ozmint. Forced into a runoff with Richter, McMaster defeated him by 162,014 votes (55.81%) to 128,271 (44.19%). In the general election, he defeated Democratic attorney and former Director of the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services Stephen K. Benjamin by 601,931 votes (55.48%) to 482,560 (44.48%). McMaster ran for re-election in 2006 and was unopposed in both the Republican primary and the general election.
Run for Governor; Ports AuthorityEdit
In 2010 McMaster ran for Governor, but was defeated in the crowded Republican primary. He finished third with 71,187 votes (16.94%), ahead of Lieutenant Governor André Bauer's 52,324 votes (12.45%) but behind U.S. Representative Gresham Barrett's 91,461 votes (21.76%) and State Representative Nikki Haley's 205,360 votes (48.86%). McMaster immediately endorsed Haley, who had been the frontrunner throughout the race and ultimately defeated Barrett in the runoff in a landslide.
Campaign finance violationEdit
On January 6, 2015, the Ethics Commission of South Carolina accused McMaster of accepting about $70,000 in campaign donations when he unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010, which exceeds South Carolina's legal limit for donations by $51,850. Documents released by the Ethics Commission state that McMaster accepted these extra funds to help in settling his campaign debt. In September 2015, the Commission refused to dismiss the complaint and McMaster's attorney indicated McMaster was likely to settle. In March 2016, the S.C. Ethics Commission ordered McMaster "to repay $72,700 in excess campaign contributions from his 2010 run for governor and pay a $5,100 fine."
Lieutenant Governor of South CarolinaEdit
McMaster filed to run for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina on March 27, 2014. He received 44% of the vote in a four-way Republican Party primary and was forced into a run-off against Mike Campbell, son of former Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr. McMaster defeated Campbell, receiving 63.6% of the vote and went on to face Democratic State Representative Bakari Sellers in the general election. During the campaign, Sellers challenged McMaster to renounce his 30-year membership in Columbia's Forest Lake Country Club, a private country club alleged to exclude black members; in response, McMaster's campaign manager stated that the Club "[had] no policies of racial discrimination," and added that McMaster "would not be a member if it did." On November 4, 2014, McMaster was elected Lieutenant Governor, defeating Sellers with 58.8% of the vote.
McMaster was elected on a separate ticket than Governor Haley, the last time Lieutenant Governors were elected in this manner. Beginning in 2018, Governors and Lieutenant Governors will run on the same ticket.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, McMaster was an early and avid supporter of Donald Trump. McMaster claimed to be the first elected politician in the United States to support Trump. After Trump received the Republican nomination, McMaster delivered the nominating speech at the Republican National Convention.
Governor of South CarolinaEdit
On November 23, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Governor Nikki Haley as Ambassador to the United Nations. On January 24, 2017, Haley was confirmed by the Senate. Later that day, Haley resigned as South Carolina governor and McMaster assumed the governorship. Inaugurated at the age of 69 years and 8 months, McMaster is the oldest person ever to assume the office of governor in South Carolina.
McMaster served the remainder of Governor Nikki Haley's second term, which expired in January 2019. Per the South Carolina constitution, McMaster is eligible to serve almost ten years as governor: two four-year terms of his own plus the remainder of Haley's term. Prior to his ascension to the office of governor, McMaster declared in September 2016 that he would be running in the 2018 election. McMaster has since maintained his electoral ambitions, winning a full term of office in 2018.
Following McMaster's first year in office as governor, The State ranked his performance. The publication gave McMaster praise for the addition of 17,000 new jobs for the state, his accessibility when it comes to meeting with state legislators, and his handling of the possible threat posed by Hurricane Irma in 2017. However, it criticized McMaster for the "lack of leadership" demonstrated during his first year as governor; citing his veto of a gas-tax increase which would've paid for road repairs and replacements for aging school buses as an example, which was slammed by members of both parties including McMaster's gubernatorial primary rival, Catherine Templeton. Overall, the publication summed up responses to McMaster's first year as "mixed."
In early 2018, McMaster's approval rating was estimated to be at 47%, while both his disapproval rating and those not sure of him were both determined to be 25%.
On February 6, 2017, McMaster's first major action as governor was requesting $5.18 billion from President Donald Trump for South Carolina's infrastructure, although Trump has made no public statement about McMaster's request. Additionally, later in February, McMaster announced, "[the] state government is going to have to go on a diet as far as spending." On May 9, 2017, McMaster vetoed a bill that would raise the state's gas tax by 12 cents—the largest tax increase in state history—although the South Carolina General Assembly overrode his veto the following day.
Regarding the state's financial budget, McMaster stated that the state has "plenty of money in the system to do all the work on the roads if we would just apply it to the roads that need the work...It's not necessary to put yet another tax on the people of South Carolina."
McMaster has stated he would sign legislation, if passed by the General Assembly, that "would allow anyone who is legally allowed to buy a gun to do so without a state permit and carry it openly or concealed." When students did a walkout to protest gun violence and to call for stricter gun control, a month after the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, McMaster described the student walkout as "shameful" and said that it was a "tricky move" orchestrated by "left wing groups" which were using the students as "tools" to further their left wing agenda. Student activist David Hogg, who survived the Parkland shooting, criticized McMaster, saying in a tweet that "future voters will not reelect you and outlive you too."
In 2018, McMaster offered to send troops from the South Carolina National Guard to assist the state of Texas in combating illegal immigration and drug trafficking. This came after President Donald Trump called for the deployment of thousands of soldiers along the Mexico–United States border, in which border-states such as Arizona and New Mexico also participated.
Richard Quinn Corruption InvestigationEdit
In 2017, McMaster—along with the University of South Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, and a number of prominent SC legislators—was connected to Richard Quinn and Associates, a firm he employed for political consulting purposes. Richard Quinn and Associates was named as part of a larger corruption probe within the South Carolina General Assembly conducted by Special Prosecutor David Pascoe, which first ensnared then-House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, who resigned and pleaded guilty to public corruption charges in 2014. While McMaster has not been implicated in Pascoe's corruption probe, four SC legislators have been indicted as part of Pascoe's corruption probe as of May 2017.
McMaster's connections to Richard Quinn and Associates caused him challenges in the South Carolina legislature when replacing two members of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) Board of Directors whose terms had expired. At the time of McMaster's replacement's nominations, the SCPA paid Quinn a consulting fee of $8,100 per month. State lawmakers delayed, for two weeks, the vote on Governor McMaster's two nominees for the SCPA Board of Directors, citing the ongoing corruption probe that has pulled in three Republican legislators. Both nominees were confirmed after the SCPA voted to cease employing Quinn. McMaster has likewise ceased to use Quinn in advance of his 2018 gubernatorial campaign.
2018 gubernatorial electionEdit
On June 12, 2018, McMaster placed first in the gubernatorial Republican primary. McMaster received 155,072 votes. However, since he received 42.3% of the vote, less than a majority, he faced John Warren in a run-off primary. On June 26, 2018, McMaster defeated Warren, receiving approximately 52% of the votes.
2022 gubernatorial electionEdit
Though not formally declared, McMaster has demonstrated an interest in seeking reelection in the 2022 gubernatorial election.
McMaster and his wife own several houses and several rental apartments in the Columbia area of South Carolina. One home under the McMaster's ownership includes the McCord House, which was constructed in 1849 and was used as a Union headquarters during the Civil War. In 2016, McMaster's tax returns indicated that he received $7.7 million through rent on such houses and apartments between 2006 and 2015; he paid a little over $500,000 for upkeep, maintenance, and cleaning. Additionally, McMaster reportedly has paid over $16,000 in fines for ordinance violations.
McMaster is a noted dog lover. In 2005, McMaster was named National Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States, an organization which he has also served as a council member. In March 2017, within months of becoming governor, McMaster's English bulldog, Boots, died at age 6 after a several months battle with lymphatic cancer. In May, McMaster announced South Carolina had a new "first dog" as he and his wife had a new English bulldog, named Mac.
|South Carolina Senate Election, 1986|
|South Carolina Lt. Governor Election, 1990|
|South Carolina Attorney General Election, 2002|
|South Carolina Attorney General Election, 2006|
|Republican||Henry McMaster (inc.)||779,453||99.22|
|South Carolina Governor Republican Primary Election, 2010|
|South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Election, 2014|
|South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2014|
|South Carolina Lieutenant Governor Election, 2014|
|South Carolina Gubernatiorial Republican Primary Election, 2018|
|Republican||Kevin L. Bryant||24,699||6.7|
|South Carolina Gubernatiorial Republican Primary Runoff Election, 2018|
|South Carolina Gubernatorial Election, 2018|
|Democratic||James E. Smith Jr.||780,756||46|
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- Brown, Andrew. "S.C. Senate advances gas tax bill with supermajority vote, as McMaster promises veto". The Post and Courier.
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- Noah Feit, The State, March 15, 2018, Greenville News, South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster calls student walkout a 'shameful political statement', Retrieved March 15, 2018, "...The Republican criticized the event ... called it "shameful," ... orchestrated by a "left-wing group."..."This is a tricky move, I believe, by a left-wing group ... a political statement by a left-wing group and it's shameful."
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- "Board of Directors". SC Ports Authority. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
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- Governor of South Carolina
- Henry McMaster for Governor
- Henry McMaster at Curlie
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Appearances on C-SPAN