Legislative Freshmen to watch

With the legislative session about to kick off, we took at look at some of the new faces coming to the State House. Of the roughly two dozen new faces in the House, these four freshman Representatives seemed particularly worth watching:

Republican Tim Scott from the Lowcountry comes to the State House with over a decade’s experience on Charleston County Council, where he often served as Chairman. The chair of the Freshman Caucus, he is seen as a Sanford ally. Scott is a smart guy and hard worker with a record of building consensus, which suggests he’ll look before he leaps into fights. Learning the ropes in Columbia while providing leadership for the largest number of freshman legislators will be key challenges if he is to repeat his success in Charleston County politics.

In the House, those elected in special elections are considered freshmen until they complete their first full term. While this defines her as a freshman, we’d argue that what we’ve seen so far proves that Beaufort Representative Shannon Erickson is far from a rookie. Passing her first piece of legislation just months after taking her House seat, she has survived several strong electoral challenges. She balances an eternally-cheerful personality with a strong work ethic and keen eye for picking winnable fights. We think she's about to take off.

Last June, Republican Wendy Nanney ousted fellow Republican Gloria Haskins by a large margin from a Bob Jones area House seat where the Haskins name was once considered an untouchable institution. With long roots in Upstate GOP politics, and a proven ability as a campaigner, she's done well in Greenville. We'll be watching to see if she can do as well in Columbia.

Democrat Anton Gunn from the Midlands is an interesting individual. While he presents himself as a moderate, his political affiliations suggest he’s more liberal than the packaging would suggest. He’s proven himself to be eloquent and ambitious - good traits for any successful politico. In his second attempt at running for the House, he won an open GOP House seat and then sought three of four Freshman Caucus slots, winning none. Those who’ve talked to in Midlands politics peg him as either an overly ambitious or risng star. Stay tuned to see which is really the case.

While the Senate is a place where seniority rules and freshman legislators can spend years in the chamber before developing any serious degree of effectiveness, there are a couple of freshmen Senators who deserve close attention.

Beaufort Senator Tom Davis isn’t your typical new face in the Senate. He served as Chief of Staff to Governor Sanford and then went back home to Beaufort to knock out Senator Catherine Ceips in a hard-charging campaign. Having played key roles in developing initiatives and policies in the Governor’s office, he knows Sanford’s mindsets and priorities well, and can likely argue for them well. But in the Senate, a freshman is rarely able to lead the charge on legislation, so he’ll have to figure out how be an effective player for the reform initiatives that he’s long supported if he wants to do anything other than warm a seat for the next decade or so.

Like Davis, Summerville Senator Mike Rose isn’t a typical freshman Senator. He spent nine years in the chamber and is returning after ousting Senator Randy Scott in a close and high-profile race. Known for his willingness to stand up and be outspoken on issues important to him, Rose has his priorities, knows how the Senate works, and isn’t likely to be quiet for long. The most noted accomplishments as a Senator before was to challenge the legislative delegation system, working to devolve appointment powers from legislators to County Councils and leading efforts to implement weighted voting on legislative delegations. He’s already working to reform how magisterial appointments are handled in Dorchester County, so expect him to hit the ground running.

6 Response to "Legislative Freshmen to watch"

  1. Wes Wolfe 12/1/09 23:01
    From my dealings with him, Gunn seems to be the real deal Holyfield.
  2. Anonymous 13/1/09 08:25
    Millwood, Millwood, he's the man!
  3. Anonymous 13/1/09 12:33
  4. still waiting on my luggage from United Sucks Airlines in Canada mg 13/1/09 22:15
    Scott might be ok we will see want we
  5. Anonymous 16/1/09 15:33
    Word has it that Rose is a out-spoken as ever & Davis was more quiet this first week than expected.

    Also, House freshman... Rita Allison hit the well again without missing a beat.

    Anton Gunn brought along his own film crew at freshman orientation & supposedly prefiled 29 bills. Style over substance? Will have to wait & see.
  6. Anonymous 16/1/09 15:42

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