Politics & Government

Boots McMaster to join history of SC State House animals

Boots McMaster appeared in Henry McMaster’s 2014 lieutenant governor campaign video.
Boots McMaster appeared in Henry McMaster’s 2014 lieutenant governor campaign video.

Even before the formal transition is under way, we know one prominent figure that will be following Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster into the S.C. governor's office – his bulldog Boots.

Famous from his appearance in the lieutenant governor’s campaign ads, Boots will have space of his own at the governor’s office in the State House once his owner replaces Gov. Nikki Haley early next year, McMaster said.

“He’ll have more than a corner,” McMaster said. “I bring him up here now. Not during the session, but when the traffic’s not heavy.”

Boots is already enough of a celebrity that he’s been recognized on his jaunts through the capitol building.

“Tour guides will stop for him,” the lieutenant governor said. “Everybody wants to see Boots the bulldog.”

Boots will become the latest in a line of famous animal visitors to the State House, including:

▪  Pork and Barrel, two squealing piglets carried into the State House lobby by then-Gov. Mark Sanford to protest the Legislature’s spending priorities. The stunt is blamed for hurting Sanford’s relationship with lawmakers, who were offended both by the piglets’ symbolism and the fact they defecated on the State House floor.

▪  Noel the pony, the name for an animal ridden up the north steps on Christmas Day 1990 and abandoned there. The unidentified rider reportedly said Noel was a Christmas present for George H.W. Bush. Noel, who appeared malnourished, had to be taken out through the building’s main elevator, and eventually found its way to a children’s petting zoo.

▪  Psychedelic vermin. In an effort to eradicate the State House pigeon population. Officials spread poison pellets around the grounds, but abandoned the effort after the pills, likened to LSD in a report in The State at the time, were found to have a “bizarre effect” on the State House squirrels. Also unsuccessful in getting rid of the birds: plastic snakes left on the window sills.

Even if Boots becomes a regular fixture at the governor’s office, McMaster doesn’t expect him to become a distraction.

“He has bursts of energy, then he’ll sleep several times a day,” McMaster said. “Often, people will hear him snoring.”