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South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster sworn in during 98th Inaugural Ceremony

The 98th South Carolina Inaugural ceremony began at 11 a.m. on the steps of the South Carolina capitol building with the processional of state leaders.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has been sworn in for a potentially historic new term in office during an inauguration ceremony at the State House Wednesday.

McMaster won this latest term in office with a 17 percentage-point victory over Democrat Joe Cunningham in last November’s general election.

The 98th South Carolina Inaugural ceremony began at 11 a.m. on the steps of the South Carolina capitol building with the processional of state leaders.

At around 11:40 a.m., the ceremony moved forward to the welcome and invocation. McMaster will take the oath of office along with Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette and the other statewide constitutional officers.

The lieutenant governor took the oath of office at noon followed by several other state offices. Gov. McMaster was officially sworn in around 12:15 p.m. followed by a jet flyover from McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

McMaster then spoke to the attendees and detailed the history of South Carolina and his plans for the future.

Through those years and centuries-long ago up to our living memories, our people have seen it all: hurricanes, fires, floods, tornados, earthquakes, piracy, Indian Wars, indentured servitude, slavery, a Revolutionary War, a Civil War, World Wars and all the others. No state has a more fascinating, momentous history than our own," McMaster said. And through it all - and perhaps because of it - we have grown, endured, and prospered. The greatest asset we have is each other - the people - the great, unique people of South Carolina."

The governor also highlighted recent accomplishments, including what he described as "the largest income tax cut in state history" and continued investments to improve the state's infrastructure.

"He is someone who wants to be a partner in the legislative process and governing process so I have no reason to doubt that won't continue in the future," said Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington). 

"He pointed out some positive things we have accomplished in this state, a lot of things democrats have been fighting for for years," said Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Orangeburg).

McMaster also received a standing ovation when he mentioned making the selection of judges "more transparent and accountable; so that every South Carolinian, born and unborn, may enjoy life, liberty and happiness."

Democratic Rep. Justin Bamberg (D-Orangeburg) said he was a fan of the Governor's speech up until then. 

"I don't think the Governor or anyone should undermine the integrity of the Judiciary just because they are upset the judges didn't do what they wanted," said Bamberg.

"I think our first response as a government is to make sure our institutions are sound and if people need more confidence as the Governor thinks, then we need to do everything we can to make sure people have every reason to know South Carolina is not Washington D.C.," said Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington).

This became a point of contention a week earlier when the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional its "Fetal Heartbeat" abortion law.

TRANSCRIPT: Read the full speech here

WLTX will continue live coverage throughout the day and after the inauguration. We’ll be streaming on our website, WLTX news app, WLTX+ app on Roku and Fire, and YouTube.

Remaining events

2:00 PM – McMaster family Open House – Governor’s Mansion at 800 Richland Street in Columbia

7:30 PM – Inaugural Ball at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

Henry McMaster's history

This is McMaster’s second swearing-in ceremony, although his term in office predates his first inaugural. McMaster was the state’s lieutenant governor in early 2017 when then-Gov. Nikki Haley was picked to join the Trump Administration as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. That caused McMaster to ascend to the governor’s mansion to take her place.

In 2018, he ran for reelection and defeated Democrat James Smith.

This time around, McMaster could make history with his term. If he wins and serves out all four years, he’d be the longest-serving governor in state history at 10 years. The state constitution limits governors to two elected four-year terms. But because he completed Haley’s unexpired term first, he has the ability to go beyond that limit.

McMaster has been a longtime fixture in Republican politics.  As governor, he’s tried to position himself as leader focused on job creation. During the Trump Administration, he made sure voters knew he was in lockstep with Donald Trump on key issues; since Joe Biden’s occupied the presidency, he’s opposed the White House on numerous issues, including immigration and COVID policy.  

The other statewide officers who were sworn in were longtime incumbents, with one exception: newly elected State Education Superintendent Ellen Weaver, who won her office in November. Weaver replaces Molly Spearman, who decided not to run for reelection after serving eight years in office.

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