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A Decade of Progress

In 1981 Republicans held only 18 seats in the 124-member House. In December 1994, the South Carolina House made history by becoming the first legislative body in the South to be controlled by Republicans since Reconstruction ended in 1876. At that time, Rep. David Wilkins of Greenville became the first Republican Speaker of the South Carolina House in more than 118 years.

Since then, voters across the South and West have handed over control of one or both of their legislative bodies to the GOP.

Here in Columbia, the GOP has guided the state through two decades of progress on a conservative agenda that has reshaped South Carolina.

In 2005, Speaker Wilkins left the Caucus when President George W. Bush appointed him U.S. Ambassador to Canada. On the final day of the 2005 legislative session, the House elected Rep. Bobby Harrell of Charleston as Speaker of the House.

Republican House Speakers
2014-pres James H. “Jay” Lucas, Hartsville
2005-2014 Robert W. “Bobby” Harrell Jr., Charleston
1994-2005 David H. Wilkins, Greenville

Republican Majority Leaders
2016-Pres J. Gary Simrill, York
2012-2016 Bruce W. Bannister, Greenville
2008-2012 Kenneth A. “Kenny” Bingham, Cayce
2004-2008 James H. “Jim” Merrill, Charleston
2001-2004 Richard M. “Rick” Quinn Jr., Columbia
1997-2000 Robert W. “Bobby” Harrell Jr., Charleston
1995-1996 Annette Young, Summerville

Republican Minority Leaders
1993-1994 H. Howell Clyborne, Jr., Taylors
1989-1992 Terry Haskins, Greenville
1979-1988 T. Moffat Burriss, Columbia
1977-1978 H. Ray Ham, West Columbia
1975-1976 John K. Earle, Greenville