Two months ago, incumbent South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) chairman Drew McKissick emerged victorious in his bid for a third, two-year term of this badly splintered statewide political organization. But anyone who thought his election would unify Palmetto State’s increasingly fractured “Republican” monolith was (and is) sorely mistaken.
While Wood was vanquished in his campaign for party chairman, the Georgia transplant has made it clear he is not done stirring things up in the Palmetto State. The same can be said for the mySCGOP.com grassroots organization that backed his candidacy – scoring several surprising county-level upsets in the process.
These activists brand themselves as “patriots” – the true inheritors of Trump’s “Make America Great Again” movement. However, many within the establishment wing of the party are convinced Wood and his allies are attempting a QAnon takeover of the SCGOP – thus subjugating the party to the will of an amorphous assemblage of online provocateurs that has become a catch-all for right-wing conspiracy theories (and theorists).
Either way, this new far right cadre remains a force to be reckoned with in party politics …
In recapping the results of the contentious SCGOP chairman’s race back in May, I predicted Wood wasn’t finished in South Carolina.
“While many in the SCGOP wish he would return from whence he came, I suspect (Wood’s) impact is unlikely to diminish in the aftermath of this election,” I noted. “In fact, my guess is the deepening divisions within the SCGOP will continue manifesting themselves ahead of the 2022 election cycle – which officially kicks off with candidate filing in March of 2022.”
And which is expected to extend into the upcoming “First in the South” 2024 presidential primary season …
Indeed, the SCGOP remains rife with all manner of infighting – especially in bright red Greenville county, which was ground zero for the Wood-McKissick battle. In this Republican enclave, Wood supporters won an overwhelming majority of delegates to the SCGOP convention – yet inexplicably lost three elections for leadership positions within the party to so-called “establishment” GOP officials.
Given this surprise split decision, the Greenville county Republican party continues to be dogged by division and rancor. Also, its party leaders continue to be peppered with allegations that their April 2021 election was “rigged.”
Over the Fourth of July weekend, a special committee formed by Greenville GOP chairwoman Jennifer Black – the leader of the establishment wing of the local party (and one of the alleged beneficiaries of the “rigged” vote) – published its findings related to these rigged election allegations.
(Click to view)
(Via: Dan Harvell)
This special committee was created by Black (above) to investigate the obvious discrepancy between the delegate election results and the party leadership election results – a gap which, in the words of committee members, “led some people to question the legitimacy of the officer elections and the integrity of the vote.”
“These concerns were of course amplified by the allegations of election fraud we all witnessed in other states around the nation, with little to no corrective action taken, in the 2020 general elections held last fall,” the report (.pdf) added.
While the report concluded Black and her fellow “establishment” officers were legitimately elected to their positions – finding “no evidence to support any allegation that anything wrong, improper, or irregular was done in any fashion” in connection with the disputed election – it did uncover what critics are referring to as a questionable “ballot harvesting” effort on their behalf.
Specifically, the report described how so-called “agents of the party” recruited hundreds of county residents to participate in the April 2021 county convention at the last minute – allowing them to register as delegates without paying a required registration fee. All told, 360 Greenville county voters were “credentialed” to participate at the convention without paying the $20 registration fee.
Why did they not have to pay the fee? Because they were told “an anonymous donor either had made or was going to make a contribution to the GCRP to cover the convention registration fees.”
No such donation was ever made, however …
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Instead, “multiple donors” contributed funds to the SCGOP to cover these fees – although the committee has received “no details as to exactly how many anonymous donors gave funds to the SCGOP, how much each such donor contributed, or when such donations were actually received by the SCGOP.”
Sound shady? Absolutely …
According to Pressley Stutts, an Upstate conservative activist who was defeated in his bid to become vice chairman of the Greenville party in April, the report “shows the systemic cheating, fraud and abuse of the election process here in Greenville county.”
“And what makes it so damning is that is is the establishment making a report about the establishment and it isn’t pretty,” Stutts added, saying the report “vindicates what we have been saying all along.”
Stutts also cited “several other issues going on across the state where Drew McKissick is coming in and shoring up the establishment against many of the MAGA delegates.”
Would that surprise me? No.
Under the leadership of McKissick, readers will recall, the party broke a decades-long policy of neutrality in partisan primary elections in 2020 – backing a trio of fiscally liberal candidates (including one who was challenging a fiscally conservative incumbent).
Needless to say, this meddling enraged the conservative base in the Palmetto State …
What happens next? Leaders of the mySCGOP.com movement told me this week they have compiled their own findings regarding the disputed election – which should be released soon. In the meantime, they said the ballot harvesting campaign uncovered by the county party’s report potentially “crosses over into the criminal” because precinct reorganization is a “statutory process.”
“Wait until we find out who the ‘agents of the party’ are,” one activist told me late Monday, hinting that legal action could be forthcoming.
Stay tuned … the GOP civil war in South Carolina is clearly still alive and well.
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 and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including the above-pictured Carolina Mudcats’ lid).
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