Who will be SC's next lieutenant governor? Political intrigue surrounds succession plan

Who will be SC's next lieutenant governor? Political intrigue surrounds succession plan

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - What's next for South Carolina after Gov. Nikki Haley leaves office to become the United Nations ambassador?

Haley is expected to leave office once confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February or March, now speculation is swirling on what will happen in the State Senate.

We know Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster will be governor, but who will be his successor as new lieutenant governor?

Sources say it would usually be the Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, who chairs finance panels in the State House. However, sources say he likely does not want the position and could choose not to be selected as president pro tempore next year to keep from becoming the lieutenant governor.

"I'm sure whoever is chosen as lieutenant governor following Gov. McMaster will do an excellent job as well," South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore said. "We have no indication yet who that may be, but again, we'll wait and see."

"Listen, it's going to become the wild wild west here in South Carolina," South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison said. "The hot potato is going to be who wants to be lieutenant governor. I want to congratulate Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster for his masterful political moves."

A 2014 constitutional revision suggests McMaster becomes governor with Haley's resignation, and as governor and with his resignation from his current job, would have authority to appoint a lieutenant governor which is subject to senate approval.

There will changes in the Senate, anyway, because of the recently elected senators. But depending on who's picked for this soon-to-be open position now, there could be even more change. In a press conference Wednesday, Moore wanted the attention kept on Haley's appointment.

"Well, today we're excited about Gov. Haley and while the focus is on her, you can't ignore the fact that there will be some changes across the state and we ask that everyone listening to have some patience for that process. We believe it will be an orderly transition," Moore said.

Some believe a Democratic senator could have the chance to be selected as next lieutenant governor.

Lawmakers begin meeting to place people in these positions on Dec. 6.

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