Heads were turning in South Carolina’s capital city this week when the next leader of the Palmetto State’s Republican-controlled Senate sat down with the chamber’s newest Democrat.
According to sources, this bipartisan lunch meeting took place at a bistro on Hampton Street in downtown Columbia, S.C. Its participants? Former Senate majority leader Harvey Peeler – who is likely to become president of the chamber prior to the coming legislative session – and newly elected senator Dick Harpootlian.
Harpootlian recently won a special election to represent S.C. Senate District 20 (map), a Midlands seat that covers parts of Lexington and Richland counties. The seat had been represented for the last three decades by fiscally liberal Republican John Courson, who was compelled to resign after pleading guilty to misconduct in office back in June.
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A brash, brilliant attorney with a mile-wide populist streak, Harpootlian (above) is expected to shake up the Senate’s Democratic caucus … and for that matter the GOP caucus as well.
“There’s a Democratic bull in the Republican china shop,” we noted on the occasion of his election earlier this month.
In fact, Harpootlian has already has shaken up both caucuses by virtue of his recent lawsuit over campaign financing … and sources close to the former two-time state party chairman tell us he is “just getting warmed up.”
Our guess is Harpootlian’s meeting with Peeler will set off plenty of tremors within the leadership of the minority party – which for years has comprised a governing majority by voting with party-switching GOP leaders and other fiscally liberal Republicans.
What did the two lawmakers talk about at their confab? It’s not immediately clear, although our guess is they probably spent some time reminiscing about their fraternity days at Clemson University back in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
If we get any intel on the substance of their discussion, we will be sure to pass it along to our readers …
WANNA SOUND OFF?
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Banner: Travis Bell Photography