What do you say, Henry?
The question will be on the lips of some House Republicans Tuesday, when new S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster pays them a visit.
By then, the Richland Republican will have been governor for two weeks. He has said few words publicly about his plans for fixing South Carolina’s roads, public schools and pension system – some of the major issues facing the state.
(The meeting will not do much to enlighten you, dear reader who did not cast a vote for your new governor. McMaster will speak to the GOP caucus during a private luncheon.)
The governor also still has not answered reporters’ requests for an interview.
“In the short time since taking office, the governor has made it a priority to meet with members of his Cabinet, state officials, legislative leaders and staff to plan for how we build on the momentum that’s propelling South Carolina past its neighbors when it comes to jobs and economic growth,” said Brian Symmes, the governor’s press secretary.
McMaster “can’t wait to sit down, as soon as his schedule permits, to talk about the progress ahead with members of the media,” Symmes added.
Lawmakers hope to gain insights into the new governor’s agenda Tuesday.
House Education and Public Works Chairman Rita Allison, R-Spartanburg, said she hopes to hear McMaster’s vision for moving the state forward on roads, jobs and education.
Allison said she last met with McMaster sometime before he was sworn in as governor. She updated him on the work her committee has done to address the still-pending Abbeville school equity lawsuit.
State Reps. Nathan Ballentine, R-Richland, and Chip Huggins, R-Lexington, said they hope to hear the governor’s plans for economic development and adding jobs.
The GOP representatives were not concerned that McMaster has yet to unveil much about his vision for the state.
“With any transition, it takes time to put all the pieces in place,” Ballentine said.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York, said McMaster appears to be educating himself on all the issues and the work legislators have done already.
“I respect him waiting and making sure he’s apprised of all the issues,” he said.
Up-to-speed on roads?
McMaster has been meeting with lawmakers since taking office, including key lawmakers driving efforts to fix the state’s roads.
The governor will meet Monday with the House’s roads guru, Majority Leader Gary Simrill, R-York, McMaster’s office said.
House Ways and Means Committee chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, and McMaster discussed proposals Wednesday to fix the state roads, among other topics.
White’s takeaway? He does not expect McMaster to “blindside” lawmakers the way Gov. Nikki Haley did two years ago, when she privately signaled she would oppose a gas tax hike as part of any roads plan, then came out in support of one, coupled with a larger tax cut, in her State of the State address.
“Didn’t see that one coming,” said White, adding he and the new governor shared the desire to work together.
State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, also discussed roads Thursday with the governor.
McMaster asked Grooms about ways to change federal highway policy to help the Palmetto State. McMaster was looking for recommendations to take to the new transportation secretary under President Donald Trump, whom McMaster endorsed early, giving him a boost in the S.C. GOP primary.
The two also discussed legislative proposals for fixing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges.
McMaster is “keenly aware” of the various roads plans and which ones have failed to pass in the past, Grooms said, adding the governor “does not want there to be failure this time.”
“I don’t want the General Assembly to get out front and pass a plan that would be offensive to the governor,” leading to a veto, Grooms said.
SC GOP chairman won’t seek re-election
The state Republican Party soon will have a new leader.
S.C. GOP Chairman Matt Moore will not seek reelection, he told The Buzz before announcing his news Saturday.
“It has been the honor of my life to serve as state chairman,” said Moore, whose term expires at the party’s May convention.
“I still wake up every day feeling humbled and blessed to serve in such an important leadership role. ... (W)ith so many changes in state and national politics, I feel like now is the right time to hand over the office of state chairman to someone new.”
Elected chairman in 2013 at age 31, Moore was the youngest state chairman of the two major political parties in the nation. He has presided over the state Republican Party in favorable years.
The GOP has a perfect record of winning statewide offices under Moore’s watch and, according to the state party, has elected the most S.C. State House Republicans since 1874. The party also touts record turnout during the 2016 GOP presidential primary.
Moore helped the party raise more than $4 million in two election cycles and pay off the party’s $340,000 debt, amassed during the 2012 ballot fiasco that kicked many candidates off the ballot.
Moore also touted getting more than 750 mentions and quotes in major news outlets and appearing on major news networks more than 30 times.
A former S.C. GOP executive director, Moore earned a salary during his tenure as chairman, a position that historically has been unpaid.
So what’s next for Moore, now 34?
He’s exploring options in the private sector – er, looking to get a real job.
Or maybe South Carolinians will see Moore on the stump.