The top challenger to incumbent South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) chairman Drew McKissick has withdrawn from the race and is encouraging his supporters to back Jeff Davis – an Upstate county party leader.
“I am officially withdrawing my candidacy for SCGOP state chairman,” West Columbia, S.C. activist Zoe Warren wrote this week. “If you planned to support me in the chairman election then I ask that you consider supporting Jeff Davis.”
Davis is chairman of the Greenville County Republican Party (GCGOP), an organization which was taken over in July 2021 by anti-establishment activists affiliated with the grassroots group mySCGOP.com. He has spent the better part of the past decade pushing school choice legislation and other conservative causes in the Palmetto State – although he has alienated many advocates at points all along the GOP spectrum with his tactics.
Greenville County continues to be ground zero in the ongoing battle between party loyalists and more conservative Republicans who are disappointed with the ideological direction of the establishment – and its lack of positive pro-freedom, pro-free market outcomes.
How did state party leaders respond to Davis’ election? Not well …
Davis’ wife and top strategist, Olga Lisinska, said her husband had no plans to run but was essentially drafted into challenging McKissick. He is running “not by personal choice … but (by the) people’s choice.”
Davis has his work cut out for him. Sources supporting McKissick in the upcoming election see the incumbent garnering at least sixty percent of the vote – but that the actual number could be higher.
“His floor right now is sixty percent,” one pro-McKissick source told me.
Davis’ backers hotly disputed that assessment – predicting a Davis upset.
“Our state team has built an extraordinary grassroots movement across South Carolina,” Lisinska told me.
McKissick handily defeated famed First Amendment attorney Lin Wood in the 2021 chairman’s race, drawing 67.8 percent of the vote. 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?
McKissick – who has taken unprecedented steps on behalf of fiscally liberal state lawmakers – is seeking a fourth term in office, one which would run through May 2025.
SCGOP delegates will gather at River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. next Saturday (May 20, 2023) to elect new officers and adopt a party platform.
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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