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Fresh Off SC Gov. Mcmaster’s Win, Backers Set Up Nonprofit

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Fresh off his reelection, supporters of South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster are setting up a nonprofit that organizers say will assist the Republican in promoting his legislative priorities over his final term in office.

The McMaster Leadership Fund will “support the governor’s legislative agenda through political and grassroots advocacy and engagement,” according to information provided Thursday to The Associated Press.

According to organizers, the 501c(4) nonprofit will focus at first on issues including economic development, education reform, public safety, tax cuts and “preserving the cultural and environmental heritage of South Carolina” — all issues for which McMaster has advocated as the state’s chief executive.

“I am honored to continue to have the support of leaders who believe, as I do, that our best days lie ahead,” McMaster told the AP. “Working together, the founders of the McMaster Leadership Fund will ensure … that the issues the people of South Carolina demonstrated in November that they care about are the issues all of us remain focused on in Columbia.”

McMaster, 75, defeated Democrat Joe Cunningham in November, winning reelection by more than 17 percentage points — the largest margin of victory a South Carolina gubernatorial election has seen in over three decades. Democrats last won the state’s top office in 1998 and have held no statewide elected offices since 2010.

Having finished the two remaining years of Nikki Haley’s second term following her appointment as U.N. ambassador and winning election to two four-year terms, McMaster is on track to be South Carolina’s longest-serving governor.

Previous governors have set up similar entities in the interest of advocating for their core issues. In 2006, as then-Gov. Mark Sanford angled for a potential future presidential bid, his supporters formed ReformSC, which was aimed at working toward government accountability and restructuring. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush headlined several fundraisers for the group in 2007, raising about $200,000.

The McMaster Leadership Fund counts among its founding board members some of the governor’s top supporters. It’s chaired by Bill Stern, a Columbia real estate developer who organized both of McMaster’s inaugural ceremonies, as well as Sanford’s second inaugural, in 2007.

“As the governor reminds us, South Carolina is on the cusp of a new era of unprecedented prosperity,” Stern told AP, echoing McMaster’s forward-looking messaging. “All we have to do is build on the momentum he and Team South Carolina have generated.”

Other members include former AT&T president Pamela Lackey and Henry Swink, owner of McCall Farms. Longtime McMaster advisor and fundraiser Marisa Crawford is leading fundraising.

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