COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, South Carolina’s oldest and most powerful state lawmaker, died Friday at the age of 90.
Leatherman died at his home in Florence, where he was in hospice care with what colleagues described as an inoperable cancer, his office announced.
Days before his death, Leatherman’s staff began notifying lawmakers that the nonagenarian Republican had been hospitalized with severe abdominal pain, and that doctors discovered the cancer while removing parts of his intestine.
Leatherman was in his 11th term and among the longest-serving lawmakers in South Carolina’s Legislature. First elected to the Senate in 1980 as a Democrat, he later ran unsuccessfully for governor before switching parties in the 1990s, one of a number of lawmakers who did so as Republicans gained dozens of seats in Congress.
Leatherman soon assumed the chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee, and in a state where the governor has less control, Leatherman was long considered South Carolina’s most powerful politician for his dominance over the state budget.
Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press