9) SC State Representative Brian White, (R- Anderson). As Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, White was the handpicked successor to former Chairman Dan Cooper. With that he has the support of establishment Republicans. He also has the support of the Haley crowd at a level. White has youth and power together, which makes him a man people in Columbia have to deal with.
8) SC State Senator Hugh Leatherman, (R-Florence). Leatherman is Chairman of the State Senate Finance Committee, which, with his old boy ties and knowledge of finance and of the rules of Senate makes him a formidable political force to reckon with. Call Leatherman names, call him too old, call him whatever, but in the end a state budget has to get by him.
7) United States Congressman Tim Scott (R-1st District). Few freshmen Congressman have had the chance to influence power the way Congressman Scott has. Further, Congressman Scott seems situated nicely with all the shuffling around that involved adding another Congressional District to South Carolina. Tim Scott is a real player in South Carolina politics and will be for some time to come.
6) Congressman Jim Clyburn. Clyburn is known for his personal touch and his famous fish fries. Clyburn also has the safest Congressional seat in South Carolina and the ear of the President of the United States. Congressman Clyburn is simply the most powerful Democrat in South Carolina.
5) Congressman Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson’s outburst of “you lie” seemed to define him. Some could have argued that would be in a bad way. But, back in SC, he touched a nerve. And, he hit a home run with people around the nation, both right and left, when it comes to Obama’s health care plan. Add to that Wilson’s incredible constituent service and the fact his oldest son is Attorney General. Congressman Wilson toiled for years in the shadow of his mentor, the late Congressman Floyd Spence. But, now is Joe Wilson’s time. Joe Wilson is the powerful old timer in the room.
4) Senator Jim DeMint. DeMint is the darling of the more libertarian elements of the Republican Party in South Carolina and around the nation. DeMint has almost a cult following that is bolstered by a great constituent service program in his office. Do not be shocked if DeMint is offered the Vice Presidential nomination of the GOP this year. If Romney is the nominee, DeMint would be a perfect fit as VP.
3) Senator Lindsey Graham. Sure, some GOP activists loathe the guy. However, Senator Graham has respect in both parties in the United States Senate. And, his all too easy election and re-election have to be noted as well. Everyone seems to want Graham out until it is time to put him back in. His clout in the Senate insures his mark, and thus South Carolina’s, is on every major issue that the nation deals with. As such, he is often the go to guy in the federal delegation South Carolina politicos go to for federal help. Look for Graham to be considered for either Secretary of Defense or the Supreme Court should a Republican defeat President Obama in 2012. Even if President Obama wins re-election, do not be shocked if Graham’s name comes up for nomination to high office. That is the kind of respect Graham has in D.C.
2) South Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Bobby Harrell. Government at the state level often impacts our daily lives much more than government at the federal level. With such a weakened Governor, the General Assembly is now where the action is. Speaker Harrell made sure of that and will push his agenda fully this session as he has before. The Speaker will tolerate Governor Haley giving a State of the State speech, but have no doubt; the agenda of the General Assembly Session will be his.
1) South Carolina State Senator and State Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell. There is one member of the General Assembly who knows the rules and the ends of out of Columbia better than Speaker Harrell: Glenn McConnell. Even “reform” he proposes seems to take care of him, and no one seems to have the guts to call him on it. Like the legendary Edgar Brown of old, McConnell remains and Governors and other statewide officials come and go. Nothing in Columbia gets done without him. Frankly, Glen McConnell is the reason Governor Haley can feel safe in her job, despite the scandals, and that Lt. Governor Ken Ard can feel safe in his. McConnell does not want to be “elevated” to a position of lesser power. As the most powerful President Pro Tempore of the SC State Senate in history, McConnell seems content to let others appear to play at power while he actually wields it