“It’s time for me to do something else,” said Cooper, who has represented the district for the past 21 years.
He wouldn’t rule out any further political aspirations.
“Never say never,” he said. “We’ll see what’s out there down the road.”
When asked if he would ever consider being a lobbyist, he pointed out that he would have to wait a year, then said: “Well, you know, if the right offer comes along, it might be worthwhile.”
Cooper, who is also the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, said he had been thinking about retiring for the past few years, but wanted to help the state get through the past few “tough budget cycles.” He will be replaced as House Ways and Means chair by Rep. Brian White, who is also on the Anderson County Legislative Delegation. A special election will be held to choose Cooper’s successor on the District 10 seat.
Legislators have to meet in session in Columbia for three days a week during the first half of the year. Being chairman of the Ways and Means committee takes even more time, he says.
“It takes a lot of time,” he said. “My daughter is on the JV basketball team at Wren this year, and I missed half of her games because I was in Columbia. And several of the games I actually got to, I got there late, because I was traveling home from Columbia on Thursday night.”
Cooper is also vice-president of Capstone Insurance Services in Greenville. He also owns a small part of the company.
It will be the first time in 37 years that someone who is not a Cooper has held that seat. Cooper’s predecessor was his father, Milford June “Dolly” Cooper, a World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient.
Cooper has been in the spotlight the last few years, as the state has dealt with budget cuts, and the state budget was trimmed from $7 billion to $5 billion. Despite the cuts, Cooper has noted several times that South Carolina has fared better than other states: it’s cut expenses without raising taxes and been able to maintain a AAA credit rating from two of the top agencies.
Cooper and his wife Melissa “Missy” Shellenbarger Cooper live in Piedmont with their two children, Leanne Alexandra and Daniel T. Cooper, II. They attend Mt. Airy Baptist Church.
Cooper is involved in several local community groups and sits on several boards. He’s on the Board of Trustees for Anderson University and Goodwill Upstate. He’s also assistant Cub Master for Pack 13 and co-director of a Bible study fellowship at Mt. Airy Baptist.
The Powdersville Library is named after Cooper.