By RON AIKEN
Quorum has confirmed through multiple sources that this morning at the State House, Rep. Jerry Govan (D-Orangeburg) physically attacked Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg) while the two discussed a controversial bill to consolidate all three Orangeburg County School districts into one.
An eyewitness to the encounter said Govan was yelling at Cobb-Hunter to her face before shoving her, resulting in a bruised arm for Cobb-Hunter. Sources say Govan had to be restrained by security personnel.
Sources also say other House members present expressed disappointment in Govan’s actions, but declined to name them, and that Cobb-Hunter has filed a report against Govan with the House.
Both members returned to the House floor this afternoon, and Cobb-Hunter spoke at the podium for Rep. Harold Mitchell’s announcement that he was stepping down for health reasons.
Govan and Cobb-Hunter have served in the same legislative delegation since 1993. Cobb-Hunter represents District 66, while Govan represents District 95.
The bill, S. 662, which was introduced by Sens. John Matthews (D-Orangeburg) and Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) has already passed the Senate. After being sent to the Orangeburg County delegation for discussion, it was moved to the House calendar. Cobb-Hunter told the (Orangeburg) Times & Democrat that members of the House would meet today (Thursday) to make amendments to the bill and to give it second reading in advance of potentially passing the bill on third reading when legislators return May 23.
The existing bill would divide the county into nine single-member election districts for school board members. Cobb-Hunter is in favor of the bill, while Govan opposes it.
Sources also report that Cobb-Hunter has received death threats over this bill that law enforcement is investigating.
Efforts to reach Cobb-Hunter and Govan were not successful. When reached by phone Thursday, Cobb-Hunter aide Teris Riley had no comment.
Quorum will update this story as more details become available.
Reach Aiken at (803) 200-8809. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RonAiken and @QuorumColumbia and like Quorum on Facebook.