Wednesday was a busy day for South Carolina, as Henry McMaster was sworn in for a full four-year term as the state’s governor.
McMaster already had been governor for almost two years before Wednesday’s ceremonies, having taken over from former Gov. Nikki Haley when she joined the Trump administration.
But that didn’t stop the capital city from spending the day celebrating the start of a new term for McMaster, the first Columbia native to be elected governor in more than 100 years.
Prayers for a new beginning
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▪ The traditional prayer service Wednesday morning was moved from Trinity Episcopal Cathedral to McMaster’s home church, Columbia’s First Presbyterian. Lawmakers and state constitutional officers were joined there by former U.N. Ambassador Haley and former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins.
▪ The prayer service included an invocation by S.C. National Guard chaplain Norris Darden and a Scripture reading by Rabbi Jonathan Case of Columbia’s Beth Shalom synagogue.
“Give him the power and the authority to walk on water and to speak to the wind in your name,” Darden prayed for McMaster, with policies that “will advance the development, rights and privileges guaranteed to every person under the Constitution we defend.”
▪ First Presbyterian pastor Derek Thomas said that, in times of “heated and often times uncivilized discourse,” those gathered should show respect for elected officials and set an example for how politics should be conducted.
After the recent resignations of several S.C. lawmakers because of corruption allegations, Thomas also prayed that state leaders be protected “against the temptations that are peculiar to their office.”
▪ Outside the church, protesters passed out a mock “alternative program” for the prayer service, with Bible verses critical of the state’s refusal to expand the Medicaid program for low-income and disabled South Carolinians.
Colorful, but cold, ceremony
▪ The governor delivered his inaugural speech on a cold, chilly morning.
Five former governors attended the ceremony — Nikki Haley, Mark Sanford, Jim Hodges, David Beasley, and Dick Riley.
There was a noted period of applause for Haley when she made her appearance on the State House steps.
▪ The only living governor absent was 97-year-old Fritz Hollings, who, after a term as the state’s CEO, was elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1986, the Democrat easily beat his Republican challenger — Henry McMaster.
▪ First Lady Peggy McMaster came out wearing all white, with a diamond necklace and earrings. New Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette, R-Greenvillem also wore all white.
▪ The timing of one element was slightly off. After his swearing-in, McMaster waited silently at the podium for a moment as a formation of S.C. Air National Guard F-16s from McEntire Joint National Guard Base performed a fly-over.
Visiting the Governor’s Mansion
▪ The inauguration was followed by an open house at the Governor’s Mansion that attracted roughly 300, including former Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and several lawmakers. They received a tour from Peggy McMaster
▪ Sanford and Hodges also both returned to their former residence for the open house.