Hembree: Deputy solicitor ‘most prepared’ to take his place as Horry, Georgetown counties’ prosecutor

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree’s most natural replacement is Deputy Solicitor Jimmy Richardson, Hembree said Wednesday, a day after he was elected to the S.C. Senate.

Hembree, who serves as solicitor for Horry and Georgetown counties, received 66.5 percent of Tuesday’s vote, beating Democratic candidate Butch Johnson for the District 28 Senate seat.

Gov. Nikki Haley will appoint a replacement for Hembree and send it to the state Senate for approval.

“As soon as Senator-elect Hembree submits his resignation letter to our office, which we anticipate he will do when he is sworn in as a senator, we will appoint an interim solicitor who will be confirmed by the Senate when the legislature returns in January," said Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey.

Hembree told The Sun News his last day as solicitor will be Dec. 14.

Hembree said once he resigns, Richardson will serve as the interim solicitor until a replacement is appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley. Hembree said he hopes Haley selects Richardson.

“That would be my recommendation to Governor Haley … and I’ve been very direct about expressing that opinion,” Hembree said.

Richardson, who is from Aynor and lives in Conway, said he’d love to have the position.

“It would be [Gov. Haley’s] decision and it would also be with the advice and consent of the state Senate. I am interested. I’ve told her I was interested,” Richardson said.

While campaigning, Hembree said Richardson picked up a lot of his duties to make sure things continued to run smoothly.

“Jimmy is the most prepared person to serve in the circuit. I’ve been training him the best I can …. in getting him involved in the budget and some of the mechanics of it that make the office run,” Hembree said.

Richardson has worked in the solicitor’s office since 1998 – starting two months before Hembree was elected – and was promoted up the ranks over the years, being named chief deputy solicitor for Horry County in 2010. If appointed to replace Hembree, Richardson said he would run to stay in office in 2014.

“This job affects people’s lives at a very basic level. It would be hard to imagine anyone that’s not impacted by [our office],” he said.

Before joining the solicitor’s office, Richardson said he spent a year in private practice as an insurance and criminal defense lawyer.

Hembree said Haley, who endorsed him in his Senate run, told him she has no intention of leaving the position open for very long.

“The cases are coming through the door no matter what,” Hembree said. “The criminals won’t take a day off.”

Hembree was elected solicitor in 1998. Before that election, Hembree worked as the North Myrtle Beach city attorney.