McMaster Officially Takes South Carolina Governor's Office

by | January 26, 2017

By Jamie Self

It's still going to be "a great day in South Carolina" when state employees answer the phones.

New S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster will be happy to see state employees continue answering the phones with Gov. Nikki Haley's signature catchphrase, his office confirmed Wednesday in response to a question from The State.

McMaster's office added continuing the practice, which Haley started, will help keep continuity in state government.

McMaster has other help settling into his new job.

On Wednesday, the governor's office confirmed Trey Walker, a long-time McMaster aide and veteran State House lobbyist, is the new governor's new chief-of-staff.

McMaster took office Tuesday, automatically vacating his position as lieutenant governor when Gov. Nikki Haley resigned her post following her confirmation as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations in President Donald Trump's Cabinet.

As the S.C. Senate moved Wednesday to fill the vacancy at lieutenant governor with Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, the governor's website was being scrubbed of Haley and replaced with McMaster.

No other staff changes were announced Wednesday.

Walker previously has been a chief political strategist for McMaster, helping him win two terms as S.C. attorney general and serving as his chief executive assistant.

How much Walker will be paid as McMaster's chief of staff was being worked out Wednesday. However, Haley's top aide was paid $134,225 a year.

Walker, a 49-year-old Ballentine resident, also worked for Haley.

A 1989 graduate of the University of South Carolina, Walker was Haley's deputy chief of staff for communications and legislative affairs in 2011, her first year in office. He stepped down later that year to become the chief lobbyist at USC.

In 2014, Walker became a lobbyist for the Columbia-based BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina insurance company.

Walker, a former S.C. GOP executive director, has more than two decades of experience in S.C. politics, including working on U.S. Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns.

Walker ran McCain's 2008 S.C. GOP primary campaign and his Mid-Atlantic general election campaign, and was the senator's 2000 national field director for his primary campaign.

Walker also has been a political consultant to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, and on various congressional, state legislative and local campaigns.

(c)2017 The State (Columbia, S.C.)