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Election 2022: Former South Carolina Legislative Leader Draws A Challenger

Are Brian White’s days in the S.C. House of Representatives numbered?

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It’s been a little over three years since South Carolina state representative Brian White was unceremoniously removed as chairman of the powerful House of Representatives’ ways and means committee.

Actually, White was completely removed from this committee – which gets first crack at drafting the state’s $36 billion budget each year.

White’s demotion by speaker Jay Lucas marked a significant shift in power at the S.C. State House – with Sumter, S.C. attorney Murrell Smith inheriting the chairmanship of the panel.

What precipitated the move?

White’s ouster apparently had nothing to do with the various ethics issues hanging over his head at the time – which I reported on exclusively in November 2018.  Nor did it have anything to do with the monied interests which attempted to defeat him during the 2018 “Republican” primary season.  Readers will recall White was targeted by some powerful Upstate GOP politicos – and appeared to be in serious electoral trouble for a time.  Fortunately for him, S.C. governor Henry McMaster rode to the rescue – intervening on his behalf and ultimately calling off some of the forces that had drawn a bead on him.

White’s ouster from his post was attributed at the time to “multiple lawmakers who were concerned over the latter’s desire to spend every penny of the estimated $1 billion in new money projected to flow into state coffers this year.”

“White was a big government liberal to his core, and the budgets his committee produced consistently reflected this ideological mooring,” I noted at the time, referencing his demotion as “a significant opportunity for those of us eager to see the Palmetto State’s legislature chart a more fiscally responsible path in the future.”

Has anything changed since White was removed from his post, though? No … nothing.

If anything, the fiscal profligacy has only gotten worse.

And while White cannot be blamed for the last three years of government excess (not disproportionately, anyway), he is nonetheless facing a challenger who hopes to provide Anderson County voters with a genuine limited government alternative to his many years of fiscal liberalism.

April Cromer, a mother and local businesswoman, recently announced her intention to campaign for S.C. House District 6 – a seat White has held since 2001.

(Click to view)

(Via: Cromer for House/ Facebook)

Cromer (above) spoke with me about her candidacy, which she says grew out of an effort to recruit other candidates to run against White and fiscally liberal lawmakers in Columbia, S.C.

“I decided it was going to be my mission to recruit people,” she told me. “Never in my life did I think I would be a politician.”

Cromer said she always believed her meticulousness and focus on achieving results behind the scenes were ill-suited to political life – as was her outspoken personality.

“I’m a behind the scenes type person,” she said. “I’m a worker. And I can be too outspoken.”

Over time, though, allies – including Upstate businesswoman Diane Hardy of the Mom and Pop Alliance of SC – convinced Cromer her skill set would be perfect for the S.C. General Assembly.

“I have known April Cromer for ten years,” Hardy told me. “In the early stages of the Mom and Pop Alliance of SC she was one of a handful of people I turned to for trusted advice. She is smart, principled and hard working, yet humble with a servant’s heart. It is high past time we had more small business owners like her in our State House.”

As an auditor for her family’s business, Cromer has extensive experience trimming the fat and delivering value.

“My job is to go in and audit each department – make sure it is efficient, make sure we are spending responsibly,” she said.

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That sounds exactly like the sort of fine-toothed comb that’s needed in the budget process in Columbia, S.C.

“It’s very important,” Cromer said of her fiscal focus. “I’m very detailed in that respect. Time is money. We have a lot of systems (in state government) that are broken and we just keep giving money back to them. I’ll work to bring down costs, cut wasteful spending and make our government more efficient.”

Cromer told me she would also be a consistent vote on issues that matter to evangelical voters.

“Being a Christian, a strong Christian – social issues are very important to me,” she said. “I’m very pro-life and I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I will fight for the unborn at every stage – and not only support legislation, but sponsor it. I think it’s important to put your name on it.”

“We have to fight for the integrity of our children and the innocence of our children,” she added.

In line with that perspective, Cromer is also a staunch supporter of school choice – saying she believes “our parents need a voice in the classroom.”

Sadly, school choice is one of many issues South Carolina “Republicans” pay lip service to – but never do anything about. No wonder the Palmetto State has been rated as having the “most liberal GOP legislature” two years running by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF).

“We live in a red state but our laws don’t reflect that,” Cromer said. “It’s more bluish-purple right now.  My hope is to get in there as a staunch conservative and try and convince members to move more to the right.” 

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Cromer is also closely following the ongoing debate over how to best reform the Palmetto State’s badly broken judicial system – which features legislatively appointed judges who habitually set violent criminals loose on our streets.

“I think the governor should be more involved – perhaps with the consent of the Senate,” Cromer said, criticizing the current process as being inherently self-serving. “You can’t have the lawmakers appointing the judges that they are going to go before.”

Cromer acknowledged, however, that reforming the state’s judicial selection process – which requires lawyer-legislators to act in a manner contrary to their own interests – would be an uphill struggle.

“It’s not going to be easy but it’s worth the fight,” she said.

White has yet to say whether he will seek another two-year term in Columbia, S.C., but one thing is certain: Cromer clearly represents the most credible challenger he has faced in years. Pulling the lens back a bit, it will be interesting to see how she and other challengers fare in their bids against incumbent politicians … and whether the “Republican” majority at the S.C. State House tacks to the right ideologically as a result.

As of this writing, filing for partisan primary elections is slated for the last two weeks in March with the primary itself scheduled for June 14 and runoff elections (if necessary) scheduled for June 28. As my news outlet exclusively reported last week, though, that schedule could be delayed for several months based on an ongoing court battle over the state’s newly drawn political boundaries.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above).

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