SC’s longest serving black lawmaker to step aside

March 10, 2020 GMT

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A state senator who has served in the South Carolina General Assembly since 1975 said he will step aside at the end of the year.

Sen. John Matthews, 79, said he will not file for reelection later this month.

The Democrat from Orangeburg County spent 10 years in the House after being elected in 1974. He then was elected to the state Senate in 1984, serving ever since.

No African American lawmaker has served longer at the Statehouse.

“The best way to continue the momentum my colleagues and I have worked so hard to build over these many years is to open my seat in the South Carolina Senate to a new generation of leadership,” Matthews said in his statement issued Tuesday.

Matthews is fourth in the Senate in seniority, behind Democratic Sen. Nikki Setzler of West Columbia, Republican Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence and Republican Senate President Harvey Peeler of Gaffney.

The Senate unveiled a portrait of Matthews to hang in the Senate chamber back in December.