Upstate representative Dan Cooper (R-Anderson) officially stepped down Wednesday, ending a career that lasted more than two decades.
Cooper, who has served in the Legislature for 21 years, had already announced his resignation earlier this year. He said his job as chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee exhausted him.
You know when it’s time to move on from something, and I think it’s time for me to move on. I’m kind of worn out from the last six years of being chairman. It’s a very daunting job and it certainly has been the past couple of years with the economy where it’s been. It’s been really tough. I’ve rediscovered sleep the last few weeks
Cooper represents the same part of the state as his father, the late Milford “Dolly” Cooper. The younger Cooper was first elected to the legislature in a rough year– 1991. That was right after an FBI sting had caught several state lawmakers in a corruption scandal known as “Operation Lost Trust.” He was one of only a few dozen Republicans serving in the legislature at the time. Cooper said he did not plan to be there long.
When I got here, I thought I’d never be here more than one term. I really did. I thought somebody smarter and better-financed would take me out in two years. I just kept coming back. Kind of odd, but I never expected to be here 21 years.
Cooper was elected as chairman of the Ways & Means Committee in 2005. He is credited by fellow legislators for helping balance the state budget despite billions in lost revenue after the 2008 recession. However, some Democrats accused him of favoring business interests over education funding. Several conservatives also attacked him for overseeing record-high spending in the mid-2000s.
While he is often praised for his hard work, Cooper has a reputation for being a bit of a jokester on the House floor. During his farewell speech Wednesday, Cooper said he and House Clerk James “Bubba” Cromer frequently took notes of misquotes from legislators speaking at the podium. He said among his favorites were “two-headed sword” “constitutional mustard,” and “$2 million in the state coffee.”
Cooper said he still plans to be involved at the Statehouse occasionally representing business interests. He also plans to keep his day job running an insurance agency.
A special election to succeed him will be held later this year.