A longtime Charleston legislator who has represented parts of the peninsula in the South Carolina House of Representatives for more than two decades says next year will be his last.
State Rep. Harry “Chip” Limehouse, R-Charleston, revealed earlier this week that he will not seek reelection in 2016. “It’ll be 22 years at the end of this term and I’ve got several successful businesses that are doing well but needing my support,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “I’ve given it a 110 percent effort for what will be 22 years at the end of this term and I’m just ready to turn the page and go on to whatever the next chapter is in my life.”
The 53-year-old Limehouse held a powerful position on the House budget committee and for years was responsible for overseeing the needs of higher education during the House budgeting process. He was also active in floor debates and sponsored dozens of bills over the year that passed the chamber, including polarizing legislation and less-controversial ones.
He said his proudest accomplishments include creating the state Transportation Infrastructure Bank, which leverages state resources for loans and funding for particularly expensive construction projects. The TIB helped fund the Ravenel Bridge over Charleston Harbor. Limehouse also proposed the bill that created the state AMBER Alert system that warns the public whenever law enforcement is seeking abducted or endangered children.
However he ran into strong opposition on other bills, including an effort to bar judges from using Islamic Sharia law in court rulings. Opponents accused Limehouse of stoking public fears, but the Republican maintained he was trying to protects the rights of Muslim women in domestic dispute cases.
Limehouse was facing a potentially difficult reelection in 2016. He narrowly won an eleventh term in 2014, edging out a GOP challenger Russell Guerard by just 42 votes. Guerard threatened to sue the incumbent for libel afterwards, blaming a misleading third-party mailer for his close loss. Guerard has indicated he will run again next year.
The Statehouse veteran insisted that was not why he chose to step away from politics. “You always hope to win by bigger margins than you sometimes actually win by,” he said. “But, as far as not seeking reelection, I’ve been thinking about not seeking reelection for the last two or three terms and just hit a really good spot in my life where it was time.”
Limehouse unseated a Democratic incumbent during the 1994 “Republican Revolution” that gave the GOP control of the South Carolina House for the first time since Reconstruction. He has won reelection every other year since. He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2013, losing in the GOP primary to Mark Sanford.
The businessman said he will focus on his property management business when he leaves office next year. He did not rule out a future run for office, but said he has no plans at this point.