Longtime SC state Sen. Hugh Leatherman dies at 90

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 8:44 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 12, 2021 at 10:21 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WMBF) - State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, has died at age 90.

Quentin Hawkins, Leatherman’s chief of staff, confirmed the death Friday morning.

The Florence Republican was recently hospitalized after experiencing severe abdominal pain. During surgery to remove parts of Leatherman’s intestine, physicians discovered an “advanced and aggressive” cancer, a GOP senator said last month.

Leatherman had been in hospice care at his home in Florence prior to his death.

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

In his 11th term, Leatherman was among the longest-serving lawmakers in South Carolina’s Legislature. He served as chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, which has sway over the state’s budget.

Leatherman also sat on a number of fiscal oversight boards, including the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee. A new port terminal in Charleston bears his name.

Frequently credited for his role in building up the state’s economy, Leatherman backed a massive tax incentive package that helped lure Boeing to the Palmetto State.

For a time, Leatherman also presided over his chamber as Senate president pro tempore. He briefly stepped away from that position in 2017 when then-Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster was elevated to the governorship following Haley’s departure to join the Trump administration.

Funeral service information was not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 WMBF. All rights reserved.