Politics & Government

SC House member a candidate for U.S. ambassador to Bahamas

FILE: State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, listens during a meeting of the joint committee on pension systems to review the bill to overhaul the state retirement program.
FILE: State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort, listens during a meeting of the joint committee on pension systems to review the bill to overhaul the state retirement program. tglantz@thestate.com

A South Carolina House member’s early support of President Donald Trump could be rewarded with the U.S. ambassadorship to the Bahamas.

State Rep. Bill Herbkersman, a Beaufort real estate developer with decades-old business ties to the balmy archipelago, told The State Wednesday that he is being considered by the Trump Administration for the job.

“It’d be a fantastic opportunity,” the Republican said. “I’ve spent a lot of time down in the Bahamas.”

Herbkersman, 58, was one of the Palmetto State’s earliest Trump supporters during the GOP primary campaign, speaking in support of the New York Republican at Lowcountry GOP events and helping to raise money for his campaign.

Three days before the S.C. GOP primary last February, Herbkersman moderated a Sun City town-hall meeting for Trump, joking at one point his wife had donated $25 to Trump’s campaign.

“He was our first choice,” said Herbkersman, who chairs the S.C. House budget panel that decides funding for S.C. parks, employees and local governments.

Ed McMullen, the state director for Trump’s S.C. campaign and later a member of his transition team, said Herbkersman’s early support helped him get into contention for the ambassadorship.

“He is a very focused and intelligent, affable guy who people just gravitate to because they like him,” McMullen said. “He’s a successful businessman. He’s developed real estate and has relationships that stretch far beyond Beaufort County.”

Herbkersman said he has been told it could be a year or more before the next ambassador to the Bahamas is confirmed. The job would pay between $124,406 and $187,000 a year.

If Herbkersman is nominated and confirmed, he would be the third elected South Carolinian to join the Trump Administration.

Nikki Haley resigned as S.C. governor to become U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, left Congress to become Trump’s budget director.

Herbkersman is already familiar with the country. He began selling real estate there in the mid-1980s and still owns three residential lots there.

Along the way, he has worked with some of the country’s political elite, including Deputy Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis.

“I know the economic situation, how things work down there,” Herbkersman said. “Part of studying is knowing who the players are – the politics of the political arena of the place you’re going. I’ve had a lot of contacts with those folks through the years.”

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks

Bill Herbkersman

The Beaufort Republican who is a candidate to be U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas

Age: 58

Education: Attended University of South Carolina

Personal: Married to Mary Margaret Kinzer; two children, Shelby and Cole

Political career: S.C. House member since 2003; chair of an S.C. House budget subcommittee

Profession: Real estate developer

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