McMaster Takes Over as South Carolina Governor

On January 24, Henry McMaster was officially sworn in as the governor of South Carolina. This change in power was necessitated after former governor Nikki Haley was appointed to become the US ambassador to the United Nations. McMaster’s term as governor began just moments after the US Senate approved Haley’s confirmation.


Becoming governor is just the latest political move that McMaster has made. Trained as a lawyer, he was a US attorney for South Carolina in the early 1980s. Then president Ronald Reagan appointed him for that position. From 1994 to 2001, he was chairman of the state’s Republican Party. He worked as the South Carolina Attorney General from 2003 to 2011. In 2014, he was elected to be lieutenant governor. During that primary race, he was challenged by a number of other candidates and only earned his party’s nomination after winning a run-off. At 69 years old, he could run for governor when the current term expires in 2018.


McMaster was born and raised in South Carolina. He received a BA in history from the University of South Carolina, where he was active in student government. He went on to attend the university’s law school and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar. He briefly served in the US Army Reserves, receiving an honorable discharge in 1975.


One of his first jobs was as a legislative assistant to Senator Strom Thurmond. He also worked in private practice and as a federal prosecutor. He unsuccessfully ran for Senate in 1986 and for lieutenant governor in 1990.


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