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The outcome of a State House race in Charleston, S.C. has prompted three leading South Carolina Republicans to pull off one of the most egregious internal power grabs we’ve ever seen in state government.

The decision – which was based entirely on personal vindictiveness – was designed specifically to thwart the rise of the Republican Party’s top female legislator.

The drama began earlier today after State Rep. Wallace Scarborough officially lost a narrow House race to Democrat Anne Peterson-Hutto, with a final count this morning showing Hutto beating Scarborough by 205 votes.

That outcome meant that State Rep. Nikki Haley – a rising fiscal conservative star – inherited enough votes to become the next chairman of the House’s powerful Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Committee.

Of course, given his deeply-personal, oft-expressed animosity toward Haley, House Speaker Bobby Harrell – who in case anyone’s forgotten has presided over the most massive increase in government spending in state history – wasn’t about to let that happen.

After all, it just wouldn’t do to have a fiscal conservative in charge of one of the most important economic development positions in all of state government, would it?

Particularly not when there’s a big government agenda to shove down the throat of the legislature.

And so Harrell – with the support of outgoing GOP Majority Leader Jimmy Merrill and incoming Majority Leader Kenny Bingham – today got a majority of the House Republican Caucus to endorse a plan that will allow Harrell to personally select all House Committee Chairmen.

And not surprisingly, his first order of business was to select racist, RINO Rep. Bill Sandifer to lead this critical economic development committee.

Within minutes of this momentous decision, we had three lawmakers call us attempting to persuade us that there was “nothing personal” behind Harrell’s naked power grab, and that the outcome of the Scarborough race had “nothing to do with it.”

Whatever. Amazingly, we weren’t born last night.

We also got a rather odd warning from one lawmaker, who told us that any criticism we might offer concerning Harrell’s power grab would lead to another round of rumors coming from Majority Leader Merrill’s office concerning Sic Willie and Rep. Haley’s personal lives, a strategy they’ve already employed once in an effort to keep her “in her place.”

That’s sad, people. Threatening false rumors in an attempt to muzzle criticism? Tsk-tsk …

What’s really sad, however, is the fact that Haley has dedicated herself to advancing conservative principles ever since she was first elected, and now the seat at the table she rightfully earned is being handed to a big government liberal simply because the Speaker of the House doesn’t like her.

That’s not sad for any one person, mind you, it’s sad for our state.

For shame, boys. For shame.