NATIONAL VIEW: Big day for South Carolina leadersTHE POINT — Congratulations to both Ambassador Haley and Governor McMaster.

So now they are Ambassador Nikki Haley and Gov. Henry McMaster. Congratulations are due to both, particularly Mrs. Haley, who dispelled doubts about her ability to handle the Cabinet-level position by her straightforward testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Her nomination as ambassador to the United Nations received the committee’s endorsement, and the overwhelming confirmation by the full Senate.
As Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., said Tuesday, “What Governor Haley lacks in foreign policy and international affairs experience, she makes up for in capability, intelligence and a track record of building coalitions in South Carolina.”
Indeed, despite her lack of diplomatic experience, Mrs. Haley brings a lot to her new job. There’s a reason for her meteoric political rise that began just 11 years ago as a junior Republican legislator who wasn’t afraid to take on the legislative power brokers over a simple matter of ensuring that lawmakers’ votes were on the record.
It was a test of transparency and accountability, and Mrs. Haley ultimately won out and the Legislature made the change. In taking on the issue, she demonstrated her mettle to the voters who elected her in the ensuing race for governor.
In that office, she demonstrated the same strength of character as she followed through on her campaign promises of economic development and fiscal accountability.
During her six years as governor, she wasn’t afraid to tangle with the Legislature if warranted. And she was able to use her considerable powers of persuasion in the successful effort to bring down the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.
Ambassador Haley’s straightforward approach and her toughness will serve her well at the United Nations, where a strong voice for America’s interests is essential.
As Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said Tuesday, Mrs. Haley’s “amazing leadership during very trying times in South Carolina” have prepared her for the challenges she will face at the U.N. “She is the type of visionary leader that will help turn the diplomatic tide of the past years,” he said.
Later Tuesday, Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster took over as South Carolina’s 117th governor, being sworn in according to the constitutional rules of succession. Mr. McMaster, a former two-term attorney general, has a commendable record of public service: fighting political corruption, environmental crimes, animal cruelty and prosecuting domestic abuse.
In 2012-13, he served as co-chairman of a committee named by Gov. Haley to address the need for ethics reform, and in that role helped produce a comprehensive plan that was far better than what the Legislature finally approved.
And who will replace Mr. McMaster? Certainly not Sen. Hugh Leatherman, who decided to quit his position as S.C. Senate president pro tempore shortly before the U.S. Senate vote on Mrs. Haley.
The longtime Florence Republican was in line for the lieutenant governor’s office, when he resigned as Senate president, saying he had no interest in statewide office.
Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, is expected to be elected president pro tempore, and soon move up as lieutenant governor.
The next nominees for governor will be able to select their running mates for the first time ever under a constitutional change approved by the voters in 2012.
Sen. Leatherman is expected to seek re-election as Senate president after Mr. Bryant moves up. The Senate should take the opportunity to deny Mr. Leatherman the position considering his unwillingness to assume the lieutenant governor’s position as the state constitution instructs. Mr. Leatherman already serves in a variety of legislative positions that make him, at 85, the most powerful politician in the state.
South Carolina has produced exemplary leaders in Ambassador Nikki Haley and Gov. Henry McMaster. And there should be no shortage of able senators to choose from as the next Senate president.