The battle for chairmanship of the South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) is over – at least that’s according to supporters of incumbent chairman, Drew McKissick. According to McKissick backers, the 52-year-old politico has secured the support of approximately 550 delegates to the state convention next month. By comparison, fewer than 200 delegates reportedly support Lin Wood – the famed first amendment lawyer who recently moved to the Palmetto State from Georgia to challenge McKissick.
These estimates – which have not been independently verified – were provided before Wood supporters appeared to score a clean sweep of delegates at the Horry county Republican convention on Saturday.
A total of 870 delegates will cast their ballots next month to determine the next party chairman – which means the incumbent chairman is already well above the 436 delegates he would need to clinch a third, two-year term.
Again, assuming these estimates are correct …
Wood supporters hotly contested the pro-McKissick numbers, and in their defense – most of the anecdotal information I’ve been provided at the county level suggests this is a much closer race. Also, Wood backers have reportedly challenged results in several counties which appeared to have elected pro-McKissick delegates.
Unlike state delegates attending a national party convention, county delegates to the state GOP convention are not “pledged” to any particular party chair candidate based on a county-level vote. Instead, county parties chose slates of delegates to represent them – often without consideration as to who these delegates might support in the race to lead the party.
Delegates are “unbound,” meaning they can vote for McKissick or Wood (or someone else) based on their personal preference.
Wood has mounted a surprisingly viable bid for party chairman despite touting some (how do I put this charitably) … off-the-wall views. He has also gained more traction than I expected given that former U.S. president Donald Trump – who is worshiped by virtually all segments of the GOP electorate – has endorsed McKissick in his bid for reelection.
As I have previously noted, Wood’s backers have rallied under the banner of MySCGOP.com – a group advocating a “purge” of what it refers to as the “RINO establishment elite” in the Palmetto State. According to its website, MySCGOP.com is comprised of “like-minded patriotic and conservative groups (from) across South Carolina who want to drain the swamp in Columbia.”
This group has made quite an impact at county conventions across the state – including a delegate coup in Greenville county earlier this month which helped provide critical early momentum for Wood’s candidacy.
I have covered the battle between McKissick and Wood very closely for several reasons – not the least of which is the heat the race has consistently generated among warring partisan activists. Beyond that, though, the race is emblematic of the broader battle taking place across the country for what is left of the Republican party.
Who wins this race – and more importantly, how effectively the winner can unify the GOP base – will have profound implications on the upcoming 2022 election cycle and, to an extent, the 2024 “First in the South” Republican presidential primary.
Which is already heating up …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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