COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is now the oldest person to ever hold that office.
McMaster turned 72 years and 262 days old on Thursday, one day older than James Byrnes when he left office in January 1955.
“I’m glad to be living” the Republican governor told The Post and Courier of Charleston after reaching the milestone.
McMaster is only the third governor to serve into his 70s among South Carolina’s 117 chief executives dating back to 1670. The other was Robert Daniell, who owned what is now Daniel Island and was a colonial governor until 1717.
And McMaster could serve a lot longer. He has given no indication he won’t run for reelection in 2022 and if he won, his term would end in January 2027 when he would be 79.
Becoming governor after a long career that included time as state attorney general, U.S. attorney, lieutenant governor and head of the state Republican party has been a benefit, McMaster said.
“It’s taken this long to understand what all is going on in the world and know what I am doing,” the governor said. “To tell you the truth, I have learned a lot in a lot of different places.”
Longevity runs in McMaster’s family. His father retired from his law firm at 99 after trying his final case at age 93.
McMaster is still younger than President Donald Trump, who is 73. And he is only the nation’s fourth-oldest current governor. Alabama’s Kay Ivey is the oldest at age 75. Seven governors are 70 or older.
“I think as long as people stay healthy and stay involved and exercise and try to eat right, do all the things for good health, I think you’re just about unlimited,” the governor said.
Two days before setting the mark as South Carolina’s oldest governor, McMaster was just off the stage from rock band Kiss as they performed in Columbia. His chief of staff posted a picture of the governor’s white button down shirt smeared in the fake blood the band uses in its shows.
“I must be one of the happiest men alive,” McMaster said. ”(I’m) living in paradise. What could be better? I’ve got no complaints.”