One of the dominant political storylines of 2021 was the escalation of tensions and the exacerbation of divisions among various warring factions of the South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) – and within the broader “conservative” movement in the Palmetto State.
This ongoing schism is expected to factor prominently in this spring’s partisan primary elections – as well as the upcoming 2024 “First in the South” presidential preference primary.
Against this backdrop, activists are battling for control of the GOP apparatus at the local and state level – vying to inherit the “Make America Great Again” mantra popularized by former U.S. president Donald Trump.
As irony would have it, Trump has been consistently pro-establishment in his “Republican” interventions in South Carolina – a pivotal early-voting state for Democrats and Republicans alike. For example, Trump issued a trio of endorsements last year in support of status quo SCGOP chairman Drew McKissick – who has enraged conservatives by endorsing establishment politicians in primary elections, trying to rig county party races and labeling anyone to the right of him on the ideological spectrum as a “leper.”
Trump has also been unwavering in his support of fiscally liberal governor Henry McMaster – another status quo politician who has seen North Carolina’s Democratic governor run circles around him when it comes to tax policy.
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Has Trump – the erstwhile populist who built his brand on opposing the GOP status quo – been assimilated (beyond his prior sellouts, that is)?
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Anyway … ground zero for this schism has been Greenville County, where an assemblage of far right activists recently took control of the local party apparatus.
Greenville County Republican Party (GCGOP) chairman Jeff Davis and his wife, Olga Lisinksa, are two of the major players in this escalating schism. In addition to Davis’ leadership role with the Greenville party, he and Lisinska are organizers of the mySCGOP.com movement – a grassroots push to oust liberal “Republicans” from party offices.
Over the holiday break, Davis made waves when he announced the GCGOP would welcome S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe for a “special event” this Thursday (January 6, 2022) at 7:00 p.m. EDT at the Greenville Hilton (45 West Orchard Park Drive).
As this news outlet reported last year, Pascoe is a prospective Democratic candidate for attorney general of South Carolina in 2022 – which would make his appearance at an official GOP event most unusual.
(Click to view)
(Via: Greenville County GOP)
As you can see from the promotional flyer (above), Pascoe’s address has been billed as an address on “political corruption and judicial reform” in the Palmetto State.
In a group text message announcing Pascoe’s appearance, Davis teased some potentially seismic revelations.
“Although a Democrat, we do both agree on EXPOSING the significant amount of political corruption in both parties in our state,” he wrote. “This will be a first-ever presentation by the former state grand jury special prosecutor and he will be NAMING NAMES. Pascoe’s presentation will be significant in content … (and) he will be talking specific examples with pictures / videos. Again, NAMING NAMES.”
Davis said he expected a crowd of more than 500 people to attend the address.
“I hope we rock the political world in this state so that we get the true ethics and judicial reform we need in 2022 … and expose these corruption (sic) politicians for the self-serving cabal they are,” Davis added.
These are two topics this news outlet has addressed extensively in recent months … so I look forward to seeing what sort of specific policy proposals Davis has in mind.
In his text message about Pascoe’s appearance Davis invoked the ongoing “Murdaugh Murders” true crime saga – referencing the fact he attended law school with disgraced attorney Alex Murdaugh, the man at the heart of this still-unfolding drama.
He called the Murdaugh mess “the tip of the iceberg when it comes to needed judicial reform.”
On that point, I believe he is absolutely correct …
Curiously, though, Davis neglected to mention Pascoe is joined at the hip with Murdaugh’s top attorney, Democratic S.C. senator Dick Harpootlian.
Pascoe, 54, was touted as the leading candidate to become president Joe Biden’s U.S. attorney for the state of South Carolina – however he failed to get the support he needed in Washington, D.C. for his nomination to clear the U.S. Senate. As a result, this job is going to former congressional candidate Adair Ford Boroughs instead.
Does this snub mean Pascoe will challenge incumbent attorney general Alan Wilson this fall?
Readers will recall I spent several years supporting Pascoe as he led prosecutions tied to ProbeGate, a major investigation into public corruption at the South Carolina State House that started out with tremendous promise but fizzled out a little more than two years ago. ProbeGate focused on a pay-to-play scandal allegedly orchestrated by veteran “Republican” strategist Richard Quinn – who is still facing charges in the aftermath of this inquiry, incidentally.
Pascoe was successful in bringing cases against a number of corrupt elected officials during ProbeGate, however he completely dropped the ball in pursuing charges against the corporate defendants in the case. In fact, it was worse than that.
Still, I look forward to hearing what he has to say on these topics given my news outlet’s extensive coverage of public corruption in the Palmetto State …
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 (including that New York Giants’ 1942 All Star Game lid pictured above).
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