A top Republican strategist tells FITS that newly-drawn districts in the S.C. House of Representatives will expand the party’s legislative majority … in name only, anyway.
The GOP – such as it is in this state – currently holds a 76-48 advantage in the S.C. House. However most “Republicans” in the lower chamber – including Speaker Bobby Harrell and his top lieutenants – tend to vote with the Democrats on key tax and spending issues, which obviously negates any advantage to taxpayers.
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley promised to fight for “a more conservative House” during her 2010 campaign, but she’s instead opted cut deals with GOP leaders – an approach which recently earned her a B+ grade on “legislative relations” from The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper.
Her grade from the Tea Party? Not so good …
Anyway, will these newly-redrawn district maps have any ideological impact on the House?
According to the strategist, the latest version of the S.C. House of Representatives redistricting map would create four new Republican districts – one in Berkeley and Charleston counties, one in Beaufort County, one in York County (near Rock Hill) and one in Myrtle Beach.
Obviously, that means four existing districts must be done away with – but which ones?
The strategist says the GOP will likely cut at least three of the districts out of the population-starved Pee Dee – a rural region of the state that is home to some of South Carolina’s poorest counties (and worst public schools).
Specifically, we’re told that three white Democratic Representatives – Denny Neilson, Walt McLeod and William Bowers – will have their districts eliminated. Meanwhile one Republican, Rep. Phillip Lowe, will have his district erased from the map.
Of those four lawmakers, only McLeod is located outside of the state’s Interstate 95 “Corridor of Shame.”
A fourth white Democrat from the “Corridor” – S.C. Rep. Patsy Knight – was initially targeted in lieu of Lowe, although the GOP mapmakers were said to be nervous about creating four new GOP districts at the expense of four Democratic districts (even if all of the Democrats were white).
That concession has irritated some House Republicans.
“Over my dead body,” one GOP lawmaker told FITS.
Were Republicans drawing the lines fairly, they would likely carve out seats held by former majority leader Jimmy Merrill (RINO-Daniel Island) and current Speaker Pro Tempore Jay Lucas (RINO-Florence).
That’s obviously not going to happen, though … Merrill and Lucas are Harrell loyalists who have consistently backed his big government machinations.
New district lines for the S.C. House, S.C. Senate and U.S. House must be approved by lawmakers, the governor’s office and U.S. Justice Department officials. Usually, that’s a process that winds up in federal court.