JAY LUCAS TO TAKE OVER AS INTERIM SPEAKER
S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell – one of the two most powerful elected officials in South Carolina – suspended himself from his leadership post today in the wake of his indictment on public corruption charges.
Harrell will hand over his Speaker duties during the suspension period to S.C. Speaker Pro Tempore Jay Lucas.
“We just want to get to the trial and prove his innocence,” a source close to Harrell told FITS of the decision.
According to the source there was a loophole Harrell could have exploited in order to remain Speaker, but that “the best interests of South Carolina” called for him to step aside pending the resolution of the charges against him.
We agree … and would give some rare credit to Harrell for acknowledging that.
(To read our story on Harrell’s indictment, CLICK HERE).
Harrell faces nine criminal charges at the state level – malfeasance, two counts of misconduct in office and six counts of campaign finance violations. Additionally, there is still widespread speculation that he is the subject of a federal investigation.
He’s also facing reelection on November 4 – against a credible Democratic opponent, Mary Tinkler. In fact House Democrats put out a statement moments after his suspension announcement signaling their intention to “devote all available resources” to Tinkler’s campaign.
Lucas is one of four state lawmakers said to be campaigning for Harrell’s job on a full-time basis, although he has reportedly refused to solicit commitments from lawmakers pending Harrell’s suspension.
The other lawmakers seeking the post are S.C. ways and means chairman Brian White (Anderson), former majority leader Kenny Bingham (Lexington) and former majority leader Jimmy Merrill (Charleston).
According to our sources, Lucas has the early lead in the race to replace Harrell.