S.C. House Ways and Means Chairman Danny Cooper (RINO-Anderson) will resign his post at the end of the current legislative session – a decision which has set off a furious behind-the-scenes battle over who will replace him on this powerful budget-writing committee.
In addition to his influence over state appropriations, Cooper also occupies one of five seats on the powerful S.C. Budget and Control Board – the quasi-legislative, quasi-executive administrative board that runs the majority of the state’s executive branch of government.
An unabashed fiscal liberal, Cooper has presided over the rampant growth of state government since he ascended to this post six years ago. He has also worked tirelessly to block tax relief as well as long-overdue education and structural reforms.
In the preliminary jockeying to replace Cooper, three candidates have reportedly emerged as front-runners to replace him – Ways and Means first vice chairman Brian White (RINO-Anderson), S.C. Majority Leader Kenny Bingham (RINO-Lexington) and S.C. Rep. Tracy Edge (R-Myrtle Beach).
Of those three, we believe Edge would be the only one likely to protect the best interests of S.C. taxpayers. As expected, that makes him the underdog. In fact, sources tell FITS that Cooper and House Speaker Bobby Harrell are already working to line up votes for White – while Bingham is ostensibly being supported behind-the-scenes by S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.
Cooper narrowly turned back a GOP primary challenge in 2010 from Joshua Putnam – a political unknown who spent less than $3,000 challenging the powerful 20-year incumbent.
Cooper – who spent more than $117,000 on his reelection bid – defeated Putnam by a 51-49 percent margin.
We’re obviously happy to hear that Cooper is on his way out, but replacing him with either White or Bingham would do nothing to change the status quo in Columbia.
Let’s hope that Tea Party members figure that out – and figure out a way to do better than they did in the 2010 Speaker’s race between Harrell and Ralph Norman.
Let’s also hope that Haley doesn’t bail on this opportunity to get a fiscal conservative appointed to a key legislative leadership position – something she said was her goal during the 2010 primary.