COLUMBIA, SC ( Associated Press) — The South Carolina House’s longest serving Republican said he is not going to run for reelection this year.
House Majority Leader Gary Simrill told The State newspaper that he felt it was time to leave the House after 30 years. The 56-year-old from Rock Hill said he didn’t specify his next plans but said it’s time for a new generation to take over.
“I want to continue to be, I want to have purpose,” Simrill told the newspaper. “There are stages of life. This stage is time for a close. The next stage is really to begin (something) purposeful.”
Simrill’s biggest legislative achievements have involved compromise. He steered a gas tax increase in 2017 that led to a boom of road widening and repaving projects after business leaders said the state roads were so bad they might hurt the economy.
In 2019, Simrill helped broker a deal that led to $120 million in tax breaks for the NFL’s Carolina Panthers to build a new practice facility and team headquarters in Rock Hill while the team continues to play in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Simrill was first elected to the House in 1992 after volunteering on Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaigns. He has always been a Republican. His late father, Hugh Simrill, was a House member from 1958 to 1964.
Simrill could run his party’s line, calling for a cloture vote to put an abrupt end to a debate or taking advantage of a Democratic walkout during an abortion debate to get rid of their amendments. But he also sought compromise. He said he did not like the new type of politics where slogans were bigger than substance.
“I think social media has changed politics a lot and the dynamics of it. I don’t say that it’s for the good, because I think we’re more topical and have less depth of subjects. And, again, we get involved in the bumper sticker of things,” Simrill said. “We are hung up in bumper sticker politics; we are hung up in verbiage.”