The South Carolina House of Representatives re-elected Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) as Speaker of the House. Harrell will begin his third term as Speaker in January. He was challenged by Rock Hill Rep. Ralph Norman (R-York). Norman ran on a platform of more openness among legislative leaders and had garnered support from several Tea Party groups.
However, his message did not resonate with lawmakers. Norman received only five votes to Harrell’s 112.
In his acceptance speech, Harrell warned lawmakers that a tough budget crisis lay ahead.
Passing laws and reforming government isn’t easy. It takes effort, great effort, leadership and, most importantly, a willingness for us all to work together.
Some Tea Party activists who gathered to watch the vote were unhappy with the result. Jonathan Hill said they had expected it, however.
Very disappointing. It was a sweep for Harrell. We’re not terribly surprised, based on the feedback we were getting from some of the representatives. But, there are five very courageous conservatives out there in the House. We’ve got a lot of work to do.
Hill said his group had met with Harrell several weeks ago. At the meeting, Harrell said he wished to continue the dialogue. “We’ll see if he keeps true to his word,” Hill said.
All but one Democrat voted for Harrell, but Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg) said they are hardly satisfied with either candidate.
Neither (Harrell nor Norman) would have provided a change in the guard. but what you do have is an excitement about the future. Not thinking about what we were or what we are, but what we can be.
Rep. Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) was elected as the new House Speaker pro tempore. The previous speaker pro tem, Harry Cato, was defeated in his re-election bid during the GOP primary in June. Rep. Kenny Bingham (R-Lexington) retained his job as House Majority Leader.
In the House organization session Wednesday, legislators also received their committee assignments and adopted next year’s rules. The vote is largely ceremonial however, as lawmakers only vote to accept the previous year’s rules.