SC Politics

‘Godfather’ Of South Carolina Politics Passes Away

There will never be another Richard Quinn …

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Arguably the most inventive, influential, innovative and impactful political strategist South Carolina has ever seen passed away on Thursday morning in Lexington County, S.C.

Richard Quinn, Sr. – the “Godfather” of Palmetto politics – died after what sources close to his family referred to as a lengthy illness. He was 78 years old. The veteran strategist – who advised Ronald Reagan, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Henry McMaster and countless others – operated an empire based out of the Midlands region of the state known as “the Quinndom.”

For several decades leading up to 2017, Quinn’s stable of elected and appointed officials exerted unrivaled influence over governance and politics in the Palmetto State – and wielded disproportionate influence on federal policy. Quinn was also the most coveted “get” for aspiring presidential contenders eager to be competitive in South Carolina’s quadrennial “First in the South” presidential primary – a race he won more often than any other strategist.

In addition to his political clientele, Quinn also represented many of the most powerful business and industrial interests in South Carolina.

Obviously, the “Quinndom” experienced a highly publicized collapse in 2018 amid an influence-peddling scandal after it “flew too close to the sun,” according to one veteran politico. However, Quinn was able to retain much of his influence as he shifted to a more behind-the-scenes role – and remained one of the most sought-after sources of counsel among South Carolina’s business and political elite.


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While some have questioned Quinn’s tactics, none have ever doubted his genius – or the fact he fundamentally reshaped the Palmetto political landscape during the first quarter century of “Republican” rule. Likewise, few would dispute that Quinn’s legendary skills have been passed down to several of his children – including his namesake, former S.C. House majority leader Rick Quinn Jr., and his daughters Raegan Quinn Smith and Rebecca Mustian.

Smith and Mustian currently run a political consulting firm which boasts several top Palmetto politicians among its clients.

My media outlet has sparred with Quinn on multiple occasions – and arguably led the charge to hold his firm accountable during the 2018 #ProbeGate saga. But there was never any denying his ability or his impact.

Several years ago, I had a conversation with another political strategist active in the Palmetto State – one who had achieved a level of success in the industry to which few could aspire. I told him at the time he was the “next Richard Quinn.”

The strategist quickly refuted this praise.

“I will never be on the same level as Richard Quinn,” he fired back.

Stay tuned for more updates as this story develops …



(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 seven (soon to be eight) children.



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Squishy123 (the original) March 21, 2024 at 12:14 pm

Oh well. “Godfather” or “King of Corruption”? At least his fat-ass son is now never heard of anymore.

Darla Taylor Top fan March 22, 2024 at 9:41 am

“Godfather” if you trust reputable news sources like Fits- “King of Corruption” if you trust a hack blogger from MB who uses a free service whose blog posts are clogged with ads.

jbl1a March 21, 2024 at 2:27 pm

“inventive, influential, innovative and impactful political strategist”, LOL, It’s also known as corruption

JustSomeGuy Top fan March 21, 2024 at 4:01 pm

Politics is what’s wrong with government, and strategists are probably what’s wrong with politics.

Yep March 21, 2024 at 5:27 pm

Peppers. Grahamnasty, McStain, and McBastard, benefited from his guidance. All three are blights on government. Nothing admirable about promoting any of them.

Amelia Price Top fan March 22, 2024 at 11:35 am

Why all the hateful comments? It is bad form to speak ill of the dead. I thought South Carolinians were the gold standard of good manners and breeding. I guess not.

Squishy123 (the original) March 22, 2024 at 4:10 pm

Don’t you mean truthful comments? It’s not bad form when it’s true. Someone watched Gone With the Wind recently didn’t they?!?!

Dum Spiro Spero Top fan March 24, 2024 at 9:58 am

I think there was a time “When South Carolinians were the gold standard of good manners and breeding.” Then I look at the character and conduct of the man who they just voted overwhelmingly for in the Republican Presidential primary.

Squishy123 (the original) March 25, 2024 at 1:54 pm

South Carolina was the gold standard for inbreeding until West Virginia said “watch this”. Two generations of marriages in Charleston and then half the county was a cousin of each other. Then they continued breeding within the family. Could have been worse, they could have voted for the demented old man who brings you Hunter Biden.


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