State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, has died at 90

South Carolina News

FILE – In this Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2017 file photo, Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, listens to a speaker during the first day of legislative session at the South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia, S.C. State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, is currently receiving hospice care after the discovery of an inoperable cancer, Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.(AP Photo/Sean Rayford, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, has died.

His office says Leatherman died Friday at his home in Florence, where he was in hospice care with inoperable cancer.

Leatherman was in his 11th term, still serving at the age of 90.

First elected to the Senate in 1980 as a Democrat, he ran unsuccessfully for governor years later before switching parties in the 1990s. 

In a state where the governor has less power, Leatherman chaired the Senate Finance Committee, and was long considered South Carolina’s most powerful politician for his control over the state budget.

“Senator Leatherman dedicated almost half of his life to serving the people of Florence County and South Carolina. His commitment to the Port and so many other initiatives propelled our state forward. We’re grateful for his decades of service, and our prayers are with Mrs. Jean and the rest of the Leatherman family,” said SCGOP Chairman Drew McKissick.

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