Grand Strand, Pee Dee leaders remember longtime state senator Hugh Leatherman
FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - Sen. Hugh Leatherman, the state’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, has died at age 90.
Quentin Hawkins, Leatherman’s chief of staff, confirmed the death Friday morning - and leaders in the Pee Dee are already feeling the loss.
“I think you can ride around Florence and see many of his accomplishments in life form,” said Jay Jordan, who also represents the Florence area in Columbia.
Leatherman served 11 terms in the South Carolina State House, had the responsibility of chairing the senate finance committee for years, was at one point the Senate president pro tempore and was heavily regarded as the most powerful lawmaker in the state.
The Florence Republican first ran as a Democrat in the 1980s before switching parties in the following decade. He was known for bringing improvements to the port in Charleston where a terminal is named after him, convincing Boeing to set up shop in the state and making it so Honda could set up a plant in Timmonsville, Leatherman’s power in office can’t be understated.
Jordan said he can’t remember a time when Leatherman wasn’t in office. He also explained that the most important thing isn’t remembering all of those accomplishments. He wants Leatherman to be known for who he was as a leader and more than just a lawmaker.
“He was not someone who was a figurehead. He would roll up his sleeves and actually do the work,” Jordan said.
Fellow state Rep. Roger Kirby, who represents the Lake City area of Florence in the State House, said he wants his colleagues in Columbia to remember what Leatherman did best, which in his opinion was knowing how to work with others to better South Carolina.
“We have lost the art of compromise in politics and he had that,” Kirby said.
State Sen. Stephen Goldfinch said Leatherman continued to receive briefs for the committee and worked until the very end. He said he never stopped caring about the Palmetto State and the people who elected him.
“Senator Leatherman was a senator for the state of South Carolina. He was looking out for the good of South Carolina,” Goldfinch said.
Jordan said he wishes Leatherman’s family the best.
“You don’t get very far in serving in the political world city county state or federal without the support of a beautiful family and he had that, so I just pray and think about them as they go through this process as well,” he said.
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