Two years ago, South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) chairman Drew McKissick won a third term in office by handily defeating famed First Amendment attorney Lin Wood.
Facing a grassroots insurgency from the ideological right, McKissick emerged triumphant thanks to not one, not two, but three endorsements from former U.S. president Donald Trump.
Gotta love those quid pro quos, right?
In addition to Trump’s imprimatur, McKissick benefited from Wood acting crazier than a proverbial outhouse rodent. Which, come to think of it, is an affront to the mental health of outhouse rodents everywhere.
Nonetheless, Wood scored 27.9 percent of the vote against McKissick in 2021 … and would have likely done much better were it not for Trump repeatedly rallying the MAGA faithful behind the incumbent. McKissick scored a resounding win two years ago, but the battle for the heart and soul of the party was well-joined – portending growing discord moving forward.
“My guess is the deepening divisions within the SCGOP will continue manifesting themselves ahead of the 2022 election cycle,” I wrote upon the occasion of McKissick’s “victory.”
Boy, did that ever prove accurate …
The intra-party strife on display during the 2022 campaign spilled over into the 2023 session of the S.C. General Assembly – which saw a band of conservative lawmakers actually expelled from the party. Meanwhile, the 2024 partisan primary fight is already at Defcon 2 – and is only going to get nastier as we approach the filing period for legislative races next March.
In the meantime, McKissick appears to have drawn a more credible challenger this go-round as he seeks a fourth term as party chairman.
Former GOP lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Zoe Warren of West Columbia, S.C. has announced his candidacy against McKissick, pushing an aggressive pro-life platform as well as a top-to-bottom overhaul of the current party structure.
According to a news release unveiling his agenda, Warren hopes to “restore and encourage the rebuilding of the precinct caucuses in South Carolina communities as a bedrock of self-governance: to educate, steward, and organize our communities to reduce government spending and growth.”
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“Limited and constitutional government requires an educated and self-governing people who have connected control of their elected officials,” Warren said. “We are likely the bluest supermajority red state in the union; though we have held a Republican trifecta since 2003. We have had Republican platform-supporting policies shipwrecked, not by Democrats, but by fellow ‘Republicans.’”
Republicans took control of the S.C. House in December 1994. In January 2001, they took control of the S.C. Senate. In January 2003, Mark Sanford was sworn in as governor – completing the so-called “trifecta.” Democrats have actually become “super-minorities” in both chambers of the legislature – and have not won a statewide election since 1998.
Last fall’s rout at the ballot box was the worst yet …
What has the GOP done with its unrivaled power?
As I noted last May, the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) has rated South Carolina the most liberal GOP legislature in the nation three years running. The Palmetto State’s economy is struggling, its schools are in decline, violent crime is soaring, crony capitalism is out of control, dangerous corruption runs rampant …
So yeah … “Republican rule” has been an absolute disaster.
The SCGOP is holding its upcoming convention at River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. on Saturday, May 20, 2023. Will the anti-establishment contingent (which is supporting Warren) fare better than it did two years ago? Or will McKissick solidify his grip on power?
Stay tuned for updates on this ongoing infighting as the SCGOP’s day of decision approaches …
UPDATE | Warren out, Jeff Davis in …
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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Anyone who wants to actually solve issues and serve the people of this state have long since checked out, leaving the nutters to argue over whose method of burning down Rome is faster.
Jim Rex won a statewide election in 2006, vs a later SC GOP Chair.
Couldn’t make it past the first paragraph.
“…famed First Amendment attorney, Lin Wood”?
Funny how Republicans like to ignore reality and instead use their “alternate facts”.
Lucian Lincoln “Lin” Wood Jr. is an American attorney and conspiracy theorist who participated in inciting the January 6th attack on the United States Capital and later made false claims about the existence of widespread election fraud during the 2020 US presidential election.
“The Palmetto State’s economy is struggling, its schools are in decline, violent crime is soaring, crony capitalism is out of control, dangerous corruption runs rampant …”
And this differs from other red southern states, how?
In every state, county and city, there is a certain element/type of person who only cares about money, influence, and power. They care little about principles, be it left, right or center. Let’s just call them grifters, shape-shifters, or the power-hungry. When those types of people find themselves in a venue or jurisdiction that is dominated by one party over another, they absolutely, 100% of the time, join that party. They don the “R” or the “D” as the case may be and then learn the dogma, the slogans, and shibboleths of the “cool kids” to commence their ascent. They go to the parties, they buy the T-shirt. If a major siesmic shift in the political landscape occurs, they switch parties. And then when they get into power, they do whatever either enriches themselves or their tribe, or just seems like the popular thing to do that will keep them in power. They don’t look at details of what things cost; they definitely don’t believe in consequences for bad decision-making.
This is the true problem that drags down the SCGOP from reaching its true potential. Too many grifters; its not a majority, but about a 10-20% share.
The current GOP Chair makes over $200,000 a year from the Republican National Committee.
He makes over $125,000 in salary and other income from the SCGOP.
He makes over $100,000 a year from his private political consulting.
A reasonable question might be, exactly who does Drew McKissick work for?
Bless their hearts.