Leatherman says he won’t be No. 2 if Haley goes to UN

Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R) Florence
Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R) Florence

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The leader of South Carolina’s Senate is refusing to become lieutenant governor if Gov. Nikki Haley becomes ambassador to the United Nations.

Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman of Florence says he will not leave his Senate seat “under any circumstances.”

His unwillingness to give up his role as the state’s most powerful politician to temporarily occupy a largely ceremonial position comes as no surprise. Monday’s statement makes it official.

Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster will replace Haley as governor if the U.S. Senate confirms Donald Trump’s pick for his Cabinet. Haley says she’ll remain governor in the meantime.

The state constitution has called for the Senate president pro tem to become lieutenant governor. But some argue a 2014 referendum approved by voters allows McMaster to choose his replacement.