City lead­ers: McMaster’s win is a ‘rev­o­lu­tion­ary’ boost

The State - - Front Page - BY TOM BAR­TON tbar­ton@thes­tate.com

For the first time in more than a cen­tury, Columbia will have a home­grown son — rather than an adopted out­sider — in the S.C. Gover­nor’s Man­sion.

That could give Rich­land County a po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic boost in the Pal­metto State, lo­cal lead­ers say.

“It’s huge,” former long­time Columbia mayor Bob Coble said. “We’ve seen gover­nors from the Up­state (and) gover­nors from the Low­coun­try,” but few from the Mid­lands in mod­ern his­tory.

Repub­li­can in­cum­bent Henry McMaster — Columbia-born and -bred, and a fix­ture in the city for decades — se­cured his first full term in of­fice Tues­day over fel­low Columbia na­tive, Demo­cratic state Rep. James Smith.

The 71-year-old former lieu­tenant gover­nor be­came gover­nor in 2017 when thenGov. Nikki Ha­ley re­signed to be­come U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions. Ha­ley was born and raised in Bam­berg but lived in nearby Lex­ing­ton be­fore her elec­tion.

Rich­land County na­tives have been S.C. gover­nors be­fore.

Demo­crat Dun­can Clinch Hey­ward, born in Rich­land County in 1864, served two terms as gover­nor from 1903 to 1907. Prior to that, James Hop­kins Adams, also a Demo­crat from Rich­land County, served as gover­nor from 1854 to 1856. Demo­crat James Henry Ham­mond, born in Columbia in 1807, was gover­nor from 1842 to 1844.

“Hav­ing a gover­nor from the Columbia area is rev­o­lu­tion­ary,” said Columbia pub­lic re­la­tions con­sul­tant Bob McAlis­ter, a McMaster sup­porter who was a top aide to thenGOP Gov. Car­roll Camp­bell, a Greenville na­tive, in the 1990s.

“And with that comes, es­sen­tially, a sig­nal that the Mid­lands be­longs in the same con­ver­sa­tion as the Low­coun­try and Up­state as a po­lit­i­cal power to be dealt with,” McAlis­ter said. “(Since the 1970s) the Mid­lands was known as a lesser po­lit­i­cal force be­cause we weren’t seen as be­ing a co­he­sive el­e­ment.”

Com­pared to the Up­state’s so­cial con­ser­va­tives and the Low­coun­try’s lib­er­tar­i­ans, the Mid­lands is more di­verse and frac­tious. Rich­land County, the largest in the Mid­lands, is solidly Demo­cratic and very di­verse; neigh­bor­ing Lex­ing­ton County, the se­cond largest, is solidly Repub­li­can and less so. And, at times, both coun­ties have been quite will­ing to point out the short­com­ings — per­ceived or real — of the other.

“There’s some­thing about a com­mu­nity’s iden­tity and com­mu­nity pride hav­ing a gover­nor for the first time in 100 years,” McAlis­ter said. “And, maybe, with that will come more co­op­er­a­tion across the river, both ways, be­cause the op­por­tu­nity might be a lit­tle bit bet­ter for the Mid-

lands to be able to ex­pand in a way eco­nom­i­cally that maybe hasn’t been avail­able in the past.”

Hav­ing a gover­nor — like McMaster — who has been a suc­cess­ful in at­tract­ing pri­vate in­vest­ment into the state who also is fa­mil­iar with Columbia and its sell­ing points — in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of South Carolina — bodes well for po­si­tion­ing the Mid­lands to at­tract new busi­ness, par­tic­u­larly high-tech re­search and de­vel­op­ment jobs, McAlis­ter said.

Other S.C. gover­nors cer­tainly have sold their re­gions in the past.

BMW parked in Camp­bell’s Up­state in the 1990s, for ex­am­ple. And Boe­ing landed in Charles­ton County while Mark San­ford was gover­nor.

How­ever, McMaster’s “legacy will be cre­ated by the fair­ness and hon­esty he ex­tends to all 46 (S.C.) coun­ties,” Carl Black­stone, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Columbia Cham­ber of Com­merce, said in a state­ment.

McMaster al­ready is promis­ing good­ies to other ar­eas of the state, promis­ing the Grand Strand that In­ter­state 73 will be built and Charles­ton County that In­ter­state 526 will be ex­tended.

Columbia Mayor Steve Ben­jamin, a Demo­crat, said he looks for­ward to work­ing with Repub­li­can McMaster.

“Car­roll Camp­bell was pro­lific in eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment …. and that ben­e­fited the Up­state sig­nif­i­cantly,” Ben­jamin said. “Mark San­ford ... brought a great deal of at­ten­tion and re­sources to the Low­coun­try (such as Boe­ing). Hav­ing a gover­nor from Columbia, with a strong re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent of the United States, I hope would in­ure to the ben­e­fit of the peo­ple of the Mid­lands.”

For ex­am­ple, Ben­jamin would like McMaster’s help to se­cur­ing fed­eral money to re­pair the Columbia canal, the main source of drink­ing wa­ter for 188,000 peo­ple in the Cap­i­tal City. Dam­aged dur­ing the 2015 flood, city of­fi­cials con­tinue to lobby the Fed­eral Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency for money to pay for per­ma­nent re­pairs, es­ti­mated to cost $169 mil­lion.

“Gover­nor McMaster is proud to rep­re­sent all of South Carolina,” McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said. “He will con­tinue to work tire­lessly to take ad­van­tage of the tremen­dous mo­men­tum South Carolina’s econ­omy is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing, and re­cruit jobs and cap­i­tal in­vest­ment to ev­ery re­gion, county and city in the state.

“The gover­nor will con­tinue to work with lo­cal of­fi­cials across the state, as he has in the case of the Columbia canal, to de­velop so­lu­tions to the is­sues they may face.”

TIM DOMINICK tdo­minick@thes­tate.com

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster and his run­ning mate for lieu­tenant gover­nor, Pamela Evette, cel­e­brate af­ter they won the elec­tion.

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