Last week saw another major escalation of the civil war within the “Republican” party in South Carolina – which has been fought on multiple fronts in recent years as rival factions seek to gain the upper hand within the Palmetto State’s supermajority party.
The latest offensive tied to this intra-party war? A six-figure, dark money assault waged by the “Republican” establishment against the conservative S.C. Freedom Caucus – a group which holds approximately twenty of the 88 “Republican” seats in the S.C. House of Representatives.
These lawmakers were expelled from their party earlier this year after refusing to sign a ‘loyalty oath.’ Now they are being targeted in their districts by a shadowy special interest group – one sending out mail pieces, text message blasts and social media missives accusing these lawmakers of “holding our state back.”
I invited state representative RJ May III – the vice chairman of the Freedom Caucus – to sit down and talk about these attacks, which highlight the growing influence of this “conservative core” of lawmakers.
“Columbia is broken – and I’m glad that we’re starting to see a culture change in Columbia,” May told me. “The people’s house no longer belongs to the people. It belongs to special interests and powerful politicians and it’s time we change that and return it back to the people that we serve.”
May said “the way the system is set up in Columbia is to keep conservatives down.”
In an effort to change that system, the Freedom Caucus recently filed a lawsuit which seeks to allow the organization to legally raise money, hire staff, promote their message and play a role in upcoming election campaigns.
Oh, and to push back against all the negative attacks raining down on them …
May discussed the establishment smear campaign, saying “my constituents and the constituents of other Freedom Caucus members see right through it.”
“I have had more calls and text messages from people that I don’t know telling me ‘Hey, I know this is B.S. – keep up the good fight,’ than anything I’ve done before,” May said. “They might have overestimated their abilities to connect with the electorate on that one.”
As I noted last week, expect the intra-party fighting to escalate even further during the 2024 primary season as the Freedom Caucus seeks to defend its recent gains in the House – and potentially add to its numbers. Also don’t be surprised if these battles spill over into the 2024 ‘First in the South’ GOP presidential primary election.
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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