Over the weekend, I compiled several stories related to the ongoing battle for control of the South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP). Included in this catch-all post was an item about an upcoming emergency hearing for the so-called “MAGA lawsuit.” This action was filed last week against the SCGOP, its chairman Drew McKissick and multiple other party defendants.
The lawsuit (.pdf) – submitted by attorney Lauren Martel of Bluffton, S.C. on behalf of activists Pressley Stutts, Walter Horin and Cole Kazmarski – is challenging the SGGOP’s decision to hold a “hybrid” convention on May 15, 2021. It claims this “hybrid” model violates the party’s rules – as well as state law and the state constitution.
Late last month, party leaders voted not to hold a statewide in-person convention – ostensibly due to lingering concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than gathering together in one location (as party rules dictate), county parties will instead host in-person “caucuses” at the local level. At these caucuses, delegates will cast their votes for party chairman (and three supporting statewide party offices) via paper ballot. These paper ballots will then be reported to the SCGOP “credentials committee” in Columbia, S.C. – which will tabulate and release the final results of the elections.
According to the plaintiffs in this case, the SCGOP’s “hybrid” model goes against established party rules – which carry the force of state law when it comes to partisan elections.
“A major South Carolina political party cannot simply choose not to convene an in-person convention at a single location,” the lawsuit stated, arguing that SCGOP officials must “follow their own rules before depriving members of the right to vote in a primary election.”
Are they right?
Yes … of course that has not stopped the SCGOP from violating its rules in the past. With impunity.
Anyway, I won’t get back in the weeds on this lawsuit (like I did in my original report last week) except to say I previously recommended the SCGOP move forward with an in-person convention using paper ballots. In addition to avoiding unnecessary litigiousness, the party could have called the bluff of Lin Wood – the famed First Amendment lawyer who moved to South Carolina earlier this year and is challenging McKissick in the chairman’s race.
Wood believes McKissick and his backers in the GOP establishment are conspiring to rig the election against him – and while I do not believe that to be the case, the party’s failure to follow its own rules plays directly into Wood’s hands.
And could delegitimize the outcome of the election …
Wednesday’s hearing will be held at 1:00 p.m. EDT in Greenville, S.C. by circuit court judge Perry Gravely. Because the hearing is virtual, listeners can dial in via telephone. The call-in number for audio is 408-418-9388 and the access code is 129 811 1364#.
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. And yes, he has LOTS of hats.
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