FITSNews Exclusive – Harrell’s Chief Of Staff Resigning August 1, 2007Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.
HARPER LEAVING SPEAKER’S OFFICE TO PURSUE A DEVELOPMENT CAREER IN CHARLESTON
FITSNews – August 1, 2007 – House Speaker Bobby Harrell is losing his top advisor this month, sources tell FITSNews. Chief of Staff Michael Harper is resigning his government position to take a job in Charleston, S.C. with a Greenville-based developer, Gramling Brothers Real Estate. Harper’s move, which is expected to be announced officially in the next few days, has many wondering whether or not the former soldier is being made into a scapegoat following a largely unproductive legislative session rife with GOP infighting and limited pro-business accomplishments outside of the state’s new workers’ compensation reform law.
“That is ridiculous, Michael is not a scapegoat,” Harrell spokesman Greg Foster told FITSNews. “And I don’t think (the House) session was that bad.”
While we don’t necessarily dispute Foster’s contention about Harper (he was actually one of the most intelligent, capable legislative staffers we’ve seen in recent years), to say that Harrell had a good session as Speaker is like saying Jimmy Carter had a good four years in the White House.
“You could be Bobby’s mistress and still have to say this was a sh*tty session for him,” one source told FITSNews, citing this year’s huge spending increases, limited tax relief and brutal GOP bloodletting over the eventual Republican election of a Democrat to fill a vacancy on the State Supreme Court. “His ship sunk hard and fast this year, and his own party was the anchor.”
By far the Speaker’s biggest GOP thorn was House Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Chairman Harry Cato, a fellow Republican who spent the entire six-month session undermining Harrell’s leadership in an effort to position himself as his eventual replacement.
Harrell has also found difficultly navigating the waters between a growing nucleus of fiscal conservatives fed up with South Carolina’s out-of-control spending and the taxpayer villains who comprise the “Joan Brady Caucus,” a big-spending enclave of “FDR Republicans” that conspired with the Democratic Minority to defeat practically every conservative initiative that came before the Legislature this year.
As Harrell contemplates his 2010 gubernatorial bid, it will be interesting to see where he turns for political wisdom. Harper, who many viewed as indispensible to the Speaker’s operation, was indeed a low-key public figure but his military background and vast policy experience earned him tremendous respect even among Harrell’s opponents.