Gov. McMaster picks experienced friend to run inauguration

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster celebrated his reelection victory on Nov. 8. By the time he...
Republican Gov. Henry McMaster celebrated his reelection victory on Nov. 8. By the time he completes his second term, he will have served as governor longer than any other in South Carolina history.(Live 5)
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 10:42 AM EST
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP/WCSC) - South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is turning to an experienced friend to lead January’s inauguration ceremonies for his second term.

Bill Stern and his wife, Linda, will lead the Inaugural Committee planning the events, including McMaster taking the oath of office on the Statehouse steps on Jan. 11, inaugural spokesperson Rob Godfrey said Tuesday.

This will be the third time Bill Stern and his wife have put together ceremonies for governors as they take power. The South Carolina Ports Authority board chair, developer and significant Republican donor organized McMaster’s first inaugural in 2019 and Gov. Mark Sanford’s second inaugural in 2007.

McMaster thanked the Sterns for their work and said he and his wife, Peggy, know they will put together two days of memorable events.

“The inauguration is a celebration Peggy and I cherish because it brings together the people of our great state every four years to honor precisely what it is that makes South Carolina unique,” the governor said in a statement.

The full schedule of events will be announced later, but inauguration day typically starts with a prayer service at a downtown Columbia church, the swearing-in ceremony around noon, an open house at the Governor’s Mansion, and an inaugural ball.

The South Carolina Constitution sets the governor’s four-year term to start at noon on the Wednesday after the second Tuesday in January. That date falls on Jan. 11 in 2023.

Bill Stern said he and Linda are honored and excited to put together another ceremony.

“We are proud to call South Carolina home, and we never miss an opportunity to showcase why. The inauguration of the governor and lieutenant governor are the perfect chance to do just that,” Stern said in a statement.

McMaster set to become state’s longest-serving governor

McMaster, 75, won reelection in November with 58% of the vote. If he completes his second term, he would serve as governor for 10 years, longer than any other executive in the state’s history, since he took office in 2017 for the final two years of Gov. Nikki Haley’s term.

She had resigned to be former President Donald Trump’s U.N. ambassador. Both Stern and McMaster were early supporters of Trump’s presidential bid.

McMaster’s victory was one of several victories the state’s GOP celebrated as other states’ GOP leaders saw fewer victories than expected.

The Associated Press called the election for McMaster less than two hours after polls closed on Nov. 8. He defeated his Democratic rival, former First District Congressman Joe Cunningham, pulling in 58% of the vote.

“It is all about the future of South Carolina,” McMaster said to his supporters the night of his re-election victory. “And everybody knows that South Carolina is the best place in the whole world to live, work, and raise a family and to grow up.”

Election night was “better here in South Carolina, certainly, than other places around the country,” Drew McKissick, the state GOP chairman, told reporters after the midterm election votes were tallied. “In South Carolina, the ‘Red Wave’ came and swept in along the coast and went all the way to the upstate, proving, yet again, what we already know, that South Carolina is a solid Republican state.”

McMaster is already the oldest governor in the state’s history. His reelection argument was simple — if you like what you’ve seen so far, I’ll give you more. He has touted the booming economy and his willingness to fight Democratic President Joe Biden when needed.

The other members of the Inaugural Committee who will join Stern are C. Dan Adams; Bill and Sheri Biggs; Wallace and Sloan Cheves; Henry and Nevitte Swink; and Greg and Danielle Thompson.

McMaster turned to legislative leaders to be honorary chairs of his Inaugural Committee, tapping Senate President Thomas Alexander, House Speaker Murrell Smith, and former House Speaker and Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins.