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Greg Ryberg – a curmudgeony, confrontational presence in the S.C. State Senate for the last two decades – will not seek reelection in 2012, according to The Aiken Standard.

“It has been a reward to have 20 years of service. The next 20 I’m going to spend with my wife and family,” the irascible lawmaker told the paper.

That’s probably a good thing for Ryberg (taking a daily chill pill should assist him with his personality disorder), but we’re not so sure that his decision will benefit the taxpayers of the state, whom he has done a commendable job defending (for the most part) over the years.

Wait a minute … didn’t we recently rip Ryberg a new one for his starring role in a status quo intrigue involving the state’s under-performing pension fund? Why yes … yes we did. And let’s be clear – there is absolutely no love lost between our founding editor and this cranky Wisconsonite, who ran unsuccessfully three times for the State Treasurer’s office (losing a general, primary and legislative election in the process).

Of course this ongoing friction is attributable entirely to the fact that Ryberg is an irascible blowhard with an itching superiority complex who doesn’t know when to shut up or how to let go of a grudge.

Nonetheless, we would be doing our readers a profound disservice were we to take Ryberg’s self-serving involvement in the recent pension plot and attempt to somehow portray that as indicative of his 20-year career in the Senate.

It’s not.

Truth is, Ryberg has been one of the few GOP elected officials in Columbia over the last few years who actually voted like a “Republican” on a consistent basis – rejecting the failed “tax and spend” mantra of “GOP” leaders like Bobby Harrell, Glenn McConnell and Hugh Leatherman (and taking plenty of arrows in his back for doing so).

Ryberg has been on the losing end of countless lopsided votes in which he was standing up for the taxpayers while “Republicans in Name Only” like Thomas Alexander, Ray Cleary, John Courson, Mike Fair, Wes Hayes, Jakie Knotts, Larry Martin, Billy O’Dell and Luke Rankin were voting with Democrats to grow government.

So while he may be an asshole … he was an asshole with a solid fiscal voting record (again, with a few exceptions).

For that, we tip our hat to Ryberg … and would even go so far as to call him a “taxpayer hero.”