South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) delegates narrowly reelected incumbent chairman Drew McKissick over the weekend – an underwhelming outcome for the party establishment as it wages a multi-front war against a conservative insurgency.
McKissick secured a fourth, two-year term with only 52 percent of the vote on Saturday at River Bluff High School in Lexington, S.C. Two years earlier, McKissick was reelected with 67.8 percent of the vote against famed First Amendment attorney Lin Wood.
“Drew barely won, by only sixteen votes!” state representative Rob Harris said. “He represents the same sense of establishment that I have to fight against, day in and day out in the South Carolina legislature.”
“This was definitely a scare and it shows his anemic support among the average Republican in South Carolina,” Harris continued.
Harris is a member of the S.C. Freedom Caucus, a group of approximately twenty conservative GOP lawmakers who were expelled from the party – and targeted for defeat by pro-establishment special interests – after they refused to sign a ‘loyalty oath.’
McKissick was originally set to face former GOP lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Zoe Warren of West Columbia, S.C. in Saturday’s election. Warren dropped out two weeks ago, though, and endorsed county party leader Jeff Davis of Greenville, S.C.
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.
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Davis wasn’t the opposition’s “unity candidate” for long, though.
Warren later reentered the race, though, confusing many conservative activists and prompting him to offer a lengthy explanation on his Facebook page.
Davis ultimately secured 33.2 percent of the vote at the convention compared to Warren’s 13.2 percent. Another 1.6 percent voted for other candidates – or abstained.
Warren responded to the outcome of Saturday’s race by saying “48.2 percent of the SCGOP is not a ‘rogue group’ it is half of the party representation.
“It is a REFERENDUM,” he wrote.
McKissick – who previously referred to his intra-party rivals as “lepers” – sounded a conciliatory note in the aftermath of his underwhelming reelection victory.
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“Looking forward to working together to make sure that we have a great 2024 and keep WINNING here in South Carolina!” he said.
Winning hasn’t been a problem for South Carolina “Republicans.” Their issue? Governing in a manner even remotely consistent with the principles they articulate on the campaign trail (or the party platforms they adopt every two years … and then ignore). While the GOP boasts supermajorities in both the S.C. House and State Senate, these bodies have been collectively ranked as the most liberal “Republican-controlled” legislature in the nation for three years running. Meanwhile, status quo governor Henry McMaster just installed a Democrat as the state’s interim comptroller.
Is that GOP rule?
Not surprisingly, the outcomes associated with such left-of-center governance are atrocious. The state’s economy is moving in the wrong direction (see here and here). As are its schools (see here). As are its communities (see here). As is its court system (see here).
All of these deplorable outcomes have been “achieved” despite gargantuan new taxpayer investments … expenditures which have fueled the perpetuation of an antiquated, corrupt and duplicative bureaucracy which does a multitude of things government has no business doing (like running universities, power companies, ports and hospitals, etc.).
In addition to these incessant incursions on the free market, GOP lawmakers have embraced unchecked crony capitalism … corporate welfare which diverts money from the individuals and small businesses which drive job creation in South Carolina.
Or should be driving it …
Such is “Republican” control, people.
Why should you care? Well, with Republicans controlling broad swaths of state government the party’s primary election is pretty much where decisions get made. And the party exerts significant influence over that process (not always good influence, either).
Will McKissick do anything differently in the aftermath of his narrower-than-expected victory? I don’t expect him to, but count on this news outlet to continue bringing our audience all sides of the ongoing GOP civil war in South Carolina as the 2024 “First in the South” presidential primary race approaches.
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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