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Pay Attention, South Carolina Republicans: The Tom Davis Model Works

As “Republicans” struggle amidst an identity crisis, one lawmaker is giving them a roadmap …

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One of the biggest impediments to forming a party comprised of fiscally conservative, socially libertarian lawmakers is the belief that elections cannot be won outside the framework of the Republican party.

Especially in bright red South Carolina …

And so we wind up with GOP majorities that govern in a manner totally inconsistent with the party’s stated pro-freedom, pro-free market ideals – majorities led by party-switching fiscal liberals like Hugh Leatherman and Luke Rankin, both “former” Democrats.

Only a handful of “Republican” politicians in the Palmetto State consistently advance the principles the party is supposed to stand for … which is why these principles are not consistently advanced at the S.C. State House.

In fact, South Carolina’s General Assembly was recently named the most liberal Republican-controlled legislature in America … which is one reason why the Palmetto State continues to lag behind the rest of the nation on so many critical metrics.

One of the few GOP lawmakers who has governed in a manner consistent with the stated ideals of the party? State senator Tom Davis of Beaufort county, who has been the legislature’s most consistent pro-liberty, pro-taxpayer vote for the past dozen years.

Voters have responded, too …

In the 2020 election cycle, Davis pummeled his Democratic opponent by a staggering 31.3 percent margin – one of the most decisive victories in a contested Senate race in the Palmetto State.

But the margin we found even more interesting was the extent to which Davis outperformed the top two Republicans on the ballot – president Donald Trump and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham. According to our calculations, Davis outperformed the average Graham/ Trump margin of victory by 16.53 percent – easily the widest spread of any GOP state senator in a contested election.

Next on the list? State senator Katrina Shealy of Lexington, who won her seat in 2012 as a petition candidate prior to caucusing with the GOP (and winning reelection twice on the Republican ticket).

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Shealy – known around the S.C. State House for her mile-wide independent streak – bested the average Graham/ Trump victory margin in November by 12.82 percent.

The takeaway? “To thine own self be true,” as Polonius instructed his son Laertes in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Well, that and “try adopting more libertarian positions.”

As the GOP struggles to establish its identity in the aftermath of Trump’s electoral defeat (and his post-election implosion) it is worth keeping an eye on libertarian-leaning legislative leaders like Davis and independent-minded state lawmakers like Shealy. Both have consistently forged their own paths since first winning the public trust … and both have been rewarded for their independence in the form of expanded trust from the public.

While this news outlet steadfastly maintains the best way to advance liberty and prosperity in our state (and nation) lies outside the failed, two-party system, Davis and Shealy are proving there is a pathway to do so within that structure, too.

If only more state lawmakers were willing to think independently …


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Banner: Columbia SC Photographers Travis Bell

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