State House

‘Crossover Campaign’ For Nikki Haley Sparks South Carolina Primary Debate

Close the GOP primary? Or leave it open?

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Democrats hoping to derail former U.S. president Donald Trump‘s impressive string of early state victories want to leverage South Carolina’s open primary rules in the hopes of boosting former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley‘s chances ahead of this month’s ‘First in the South’ GOP presidential primary.

Is such a “crossover campaign” a legitimate threat to Trump? Or is it merely the latest Quixotic machination by the D.C. uniparty establishment to resuscitate Haley’s moribund “Republican” candidacy … which collapsed last month after underwhelming showings in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Given the anemic Democrats turnout for last weekend’s ‘First in the Nation’ Democratic primary, some believe there’s legitimacy to this “crossover” threat … although recent polling reveals how high a hurdle such an effort faces within the Palmetto State’s GOP electorate.

As it stands now, South Carolina voters are not required to register as members of either the “Republican” or Democratic parties prior to casting their ballots in partisan primary elections (including quadrennial presidential preference races). In other words, as long as Democratic voters didn’t cast their ballots in last Saturday’s ‘First in the Nation’ primary – which hardly any of them did – they are free to vote for Haley on February 24, 2024.

This freedom has many in the SCGOP establishment seeing red …



Closing partisan primaries – i.e. preventing Democrats and independents from having a say in the selection of GOP nominees – has been a goal of “Republican” operatives in the Palmetto State for many years. These efforts have routinely come up short, however.

For years, I have argued against closing primaries – believing voters have every right to cast their ballots in whichever primary election floats their boat. In 2016, I even argued that voters in the “First in the South” presidential preference primaries should have been allowed to vote in both GOP and Democratic elections seeing as these races were held on different days.

Far more important than these partisan games? Reforms which safeguard the literal integrity of the ballot box …

Seventeen GOP House members – most of them affiliated with the state’s Freedom Caucus – introduced legislation last January which would amend the law to state that “a person may not belong to a party club or vote in a partisan primary election unless he is a registered elector and a member of that party.”

Changing party registration could only be accomplished “by executing an affidavit not later than thirty days before the primary.” Despite being filed over a year ago, this bill – H. 3161 – has not advanced through the House judiciary committee.

The irony in its lack of motion is not lost those supporting closed primaries …

”The fake Republicans who are endorsing Trump are the same ones allowing Democrats to vote against him,” one of the bill’s sponsors told me this week.

While the Democratic “crossover campaign” in support of Haley is not expected to get her across the finish line against Trump (or anywhere near it, for that matter), expect it to generate significant momentum within the S.C. General Assembly in support of closing future partisan primary elections.

What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always-engaging comments section below …


Should South Carolina close its partisan primary elections to registered voters of each respective political party?

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    (Travis Bell Photography)

    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 and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.



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    1 comment

    Dum Spiro Spero Top fan February 5, 2024 at 12:57 pm

    Interesting that Adam Morgan and the Freedom Caucus are against open primaries. The only chance that Morgan has to defeat incumbent William Timmons in the congressional primary is that he get independent and crossover Democrats who might actually care about character in an elected officeholder.


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