Republicans in the South Carolina Senate continued the state party’s recent trend of promoting younger rising stars to positions of leadership.
The GOP Caucus on Wednesday unanimously elected State Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, to be the next Senate Majority Leader. The 40-year-old Massey is in his tenth year representing the five counties that make up the western Midlands. He is an attorney in his private sector career.
He replaces State Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, who announced he would give up the post Tuesday so he could focus on a primary election challenge and “share responsibility” for leading the large Republican majority. Peeler had led the Senate GOP since 2005.
Massey has a reputation as a conservative backbencher who will often go against his party’s leaders on fiscal issues. He has also publicly clashed in the past with the Senate GOP’s highest-ranking member Senate President pro tempore Hugh Leatherman, a Florence Republican who was once majority leader himself. Massey was one of just two senators to oppose Leatherman’s pro tempore election in 2014, accusing the powerful senator of a “well-organized coup.”
Despite his occasionally fiery rhetoric, he is well-respected by senators in both parties and is often involved in compromise negotiations.
His election continues a conscious trend by the South Carolina Republican Party to give its leaders a more youthful vibe. Other recent examples include the nation’s youngest governor 44-year-old Nikki Haley, the nation’s youngest state party chairman in 33-year-old SCGOP leader Matt Moore, and US Sen. Tim Scott, who was 47 years old when first appointed by Haley in 2013.
Massey said the first item on his agenda with be passing a true ethics reform bill that the Senate is debating this week.
His term will expire at the end of the year, although Massey indicated he would likely seek reelection to the post in January.