One of the most important storylines so far in the 125th regular session of the South Carolina General Assembly is the ongoing battle between members of the “Republican” establishment and the conservative S.C. Freedom Caucus.
“Republicans” won a supermajority in the S.C. House of Representatives back in November, but the level of acrimony between these two warring factions has created a caustic cacophony of discontent – one which grows louder with each fresh escalation.
Back in January, the S.C. House “Republican” Caucus voted to expel members of the Freedom Caucus from the organization. More recently, Caucus leaders have launched a costly and clandestine campaign targeting conservative lawmakers in their own districts – previewing what is expected to be an extremely bloody partisan primary season in 2024.
This week, the GOP establishment’s campaign against the conservative wing of its own party found its way onto social media via a Twitter broadside from the so-called Palmetto Truth Project. This entity – which bills itself as a “group of South Carolina business and community leaders” – called out Freedom Caucus members for allegedly refusing to participate in debate (or what passes as debate) at the S.C. State House.
According to the first video offering from this anonymous group, Freedom Caucus members are purportedly “legislating for likes and retweets” – and are doing “more running than fighting” in the state capital.
“These legislators can’t take questions because their proposals are nonsense designed for social media posts,” the group noted … in a social media post.
Take a look …
This lack of self-awareness notwithstanding, the video received an unexpected thumbs up from veteran state senator Tom Davis, a libertarian-leaning GOP lawmaker who has historically aligned with pro-freedom issues. Davis minced no words regarding his views on the Freedom Caucus.
“This is performative nonsense, and that’s putting it charitably,” Davis wrote, referring to the group. “There’s zero effort by these self-styled ‘freedom fighters’ to meaningfully engage on pending legislation in an attempt to make it better, only sophomoric jackassery to generate product for a social-media feed.”
Tell us how you really feel, senator …
I reached out to one of the Freedom Caucus members targeted by the video in the hopes of getting her feedback on the situation.
Freshman state representative April Cromer is a staunch fiscal conservative who runs the books for her family business. She ousted veteran legislator Brian White in a GOP primary election last spring – one of several races which saw conservative newcomers defeat fiscally liberal incumbents. Those results infuriated the GOP establishment, which has led directly to the ongoing campaign to destroy/ discredit/ marginalize Freedom Caucus members.
(Click to view)
“They are desperate and it’s showing,” Cromer told me, referring to the GOP leadership.
Cromer also made it clear no amount of political pressure from establishment politicians would cause her to abandon her core beliefs.
“There’s nothing they can do or offer to change me,” she said.
Cromer provided context for the clips of her speaking in the House chamber, saying the footage was taken on March 8, 2023 during debate over a controversial hate crimes bill which cleared the House and is currently pending before the S.C. Senate.
Cromer proposed an amendment to the bill – H. 3104 – attempting to define “sex” for the purposes of its use in the legislation. As I noted in previous coverage, the bill which cleared the House was a “sloppy statute” – one containing “zero guidance as to how (any) discriminatory factors should be defined.”
Cromer’s amendment – which was shot down by an alliance of Democrats and establishment “Republicans” – would have defined genders based on “specific reproductive role(s) as indicated by the person’s sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex hormones, and their internal and external genitalia that is present at birth.”
In other words … based on people’s genders.
“I told them I wouldn’t take questions because if they didn’t know what a woman is I couldn’t help them,” Cromer said.
UPDATE: The fight is escalating. Here is a mail piece dropped in the district of one Freedom Caucus member by the “Truth” project. At least six members of the caucus have reportedly seen similar mailings in their districts …
(Click to view)
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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