Battle Underway For South Carolina House Judiciary Committee Chairmanship

State lawmakers vying for soon-to-be-vacant leadership post …

With South Carolina House of Representatives’ judiciary committee chairman Peter McCoy in line to be appointed as the next United States attorney for the Palmetto State, a battle is underway in the legislature over who will inherit his influential post.

According to our sources, the battle is between two veteran lawmakers – Weston Newton of Bluffton, S.C. and Chris Murphy of North Charleston, S.C. As of this writing, Newton is believed to be the frontrunner for the position – however Murphy is said to be campaigning aggressively for the seat.

McCoy, 41, has led the judiciary committee since last December. He followed in the footsteps of former state representative Greg Delleney, who held the position for seven years.

Newton has spent the last few years as chairman of the House legislative oversight committee – where he has earned high marks for his efforts to hold state agencies accountable to taxpayers. He has represented S.C. House District 120 (map) since 2013. Murphy has represented S.C. House District 98 (map) since 2011.

Both Newton and Murphy (below) are currently members of the House judiciary committee.

(Click to view)

(Via: Travis Bell Photography)

GOP leaders in the House are eager to tamp down the drama associated with a contested chairmanship – particularly seeing as there is no definitive timetable associated with McCoy vacating the chairmanship.

McCoy would step down only when he is confirmed as the next U.S. attorney – a process that has not even begun yet.

Why not? Well, the current U.S. attorney – Sherri Lydon – was only recently nominated by U.S. president Donald Trump to serve as a district court judge in the Palmetto State. And while we do not anticipate any issues arising during that process (Lydon has drawn universal praise for her performance as the top federal prosecutor in South Carolina), her nomination still has to clear the U.S. Senate.

Same as McCoy’s nomination to replace her…

That process could take several weeks … perhaps even several months.

“No need for a premature race,” one legislative leader told us.

In addition to the battle between Newton and Murphy for the judiciary chairmanship, McCoy’s impending appointment as U.S. attorney would set up another race – a special election to fill his soon-to-be-vacated seat in the S.C. House of Representatives.

McCoy has represented S.C. House District 115 (map) since 2010 – when he upset incumbent Democratic lawmaker Anne Peterson. Democrats have been working hard to reclaim this seat – one of only a handful of true swing districts in the state. They came close last fall, with McCoy winning only 51.45 percent of the vote in his most recent reelection bid.

One Democrat, Eileen Dougherty, has already announced her intention to campaign for this seat.

Obviously we will keep a close eye on both of these races as they begin to take shape …



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Banner: Columbia SC Photographers Travis Bell

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