South Carolina Democrats May Have A Long Sought-after Opportunity
On July 11, 1804, longstanding political rivals and personal enemies, former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and Vice President Aaron Burr raised their dueling pistols and took aim. Due to political upsets by Hamilton, Burr retaliated by challenging Hamilton to a duel in which Hamilton was killed.
Politics has always been an ugly business. Relationships get soured and emotions boil out of control. The ramifications can be long-lasting.
Unfortunately, South Carolina’s Grand Old Party is currently in the middle of such turmoil.
This current dueling all started with the largest county delegation of the South Carolina Republican Party. Any state-wide candidate knows that to win a state-wide election requires a healthy relationship with the Greenville County Republican Party.
The problem right now is the local party is in the middle of an earthquake divide between two factions. One faction is commonly referred to as the establishment, or as some from their counterpart call them RINOs. The other side is called the MYSCGOP, also known as the Greenville Tea Party.
It all started with the online County Convention which took place on April 6th. Many county delegates in the MYSCGOP faction accused Nate Leupp, chairman at the time, of rigging the County Party Officer elections behind the hidden veils of a “virtual” convention.
Because of rumors of lawsuits and complaints from the mostly made-up MYSCGOP delegation, the new Chairwoman Jennifer Black formed a special committee to investigate these election-fraud allegations.
This committee presented their report on July 6th. Early that day, the former Chairman Nate Leupp posted on Facebook his response to the report as if everything was okay. However, when Committee Chairman Stephen Brown gave a synopsis of the report before taking questions from the floor, he made it very clear that election fraud was committed in the weeks leading up to the virtual convention.
The report said that there were 360 delegates that got mysteriously signed up after the precinct makeup/reorganization meeting. This meeting took place a few weeks after the initial precinct reorganization meetings for those who could not make it to the earlier precinct meetings. This makeup meeting was also for precincts to officially organize that had no attendance at the initial precinct reorganization meeting.
Everyone who attends the reorganization meeting who wishes to attend the county convention must fill out a form known as Form 1. Brown reported that the committee discovered that there were redactions made on the Form 1 of these 360 delegates and potential lawsuits and misunderstanding would be had if they did not redact the information. It was also reported that these delegates did not pay for their registration fee, which they were told would be paid by an anonymous donor who turned out to be the state party, SCGOP. They were also told who to vote for, which was confirmed by two investigative committee members.
According to the report, with nearly 1,500 total delegates, the 360 mysterious delegates had a significant impact on the results of the election of the chairman, 1st vice-chairman and state executive committeeman at the virtual county convention. Because of these tainted results, the MYSCGOP delegates/Executive Committeemen (EC’s) demanded that the newly elected Chairwoman, 1st Vice Chair and State Executive Committeeman resign.
Many MYSCGOP delegates/EC’s expressed the belief that, although the newly elected officers were victims of the reported fraud of the previous chairman and his so-called agents, the only right thing to do was for them to resign.
A couple of days later, Chairwoman Jennifer Black posted on social media on behalf of 1st Vice Chairwoman Stacy Shea, State Executive Committeeman Randy Page and herself, that they are officially resigning from their new positions affective immediately.
In this post, it became clear that even though they were resigning, they were not sympathetic to the MYSCGOP takeover of the local party and their perceived bullying tactics. Former Chairwoman Jennifer Black accused her critics of “intimidation, threats, bullying, disenfranchisement and character assassination.”
From recent comments from both Black’s resignation post and State GOP Chairman Drew McKissick, it is becoming clear that those who have been branded the “establishment” are implying that they will ignore the local party and start conducting local GOP representation through auxiliaries and other Republican clubs in Greenville County.
Chairman Black expressed, “As such, our energy is best used elsewhere to positively engage legislative issues that affect us, our families, and the citizens of our great state.”
State GOP Chairman Drew McKissick, who defeated the MYSCGOP-supported candidate, pro-Trump Attorney Lin Wood, said, “These are people who want to turn the local party organization into their own personal hobbyhorse, and that is not our mission.” He also said, referring to the takeover of Greenville GOP by MYSCGOP, “It will fall into a state of disrepair, become a complete dumpster fire and essentially be a leper colony for the next year and a half.”
It has also been said that McKissick implied that the state GOP was ready to support rival GOP organizations in Greenville county created by “sane Republicans.”
As for MYSCGOP, they conducted their first meeting of the Greenville GOP Executive Committee on July 12th where 3rd Vice Chairman Jeff Davis led the meeting. During the meeting, Pressley Stutts said that State Party Chairman Drew McKissick has made it clear that he will not work with the MYSCGOP-controlled Greenville County GOP Party.
One precinct president asked, “Is it true that the Greenville GOP Club serves at the pleasure of the state GOP Club?”
The parliamentarian replied, “Yes, they can choose to not recognize us.” This implies that McKissick or the State Executive Committee has the power and could back up the rumors that the Greenville County GOP club could be ignored and even removed from the South Carolina State Party Club. Does this mean that a new county party could be created to replace the MYSCGOP-controlled county party? Only time will tell.
During this meeting it was also said that other counties were sympathetic to the newly MYSCGOP-controlled Greenville Party and were coming to their aid. There have already been rumors that MYSCGOP have their eyes on other county parties throughout the state.
It has been reported that 37 Horry County Executive Committee GOP members voted to censure SCGOP State Chairman Drew McKissick. The vote was taken in response to what has been going on here in Greenville County.
At the meeting on July 12th, there were attempts to suspend the rules as a whole, which ultimately ended up in the suspension of certain rules. Brown constantly warned the executive committee to be careful about suspending the rules, implying that such an action could come to bite them later, especially with McKissick already eyeing what is going on in Greenville and implying future actions.
What is becoming obvious is the recent disarray of the Greenville GOP, which is already getting national attention, is written and engraved in social media stone that it is spreading throughout the whole state of South Carolina.
With 2022 midterm elections looming next year, many people are concerned that this will become a major distraction and provide a long-sought after opportunity for the Democrats to get a foothold in a strongly Republican South Carolina.
Republicans have a solid hold on South Carolina politics and government, even though some believe that many of these Republicans are RINOs (Republican In Name Only).
The Democrats have been waiting for an opportunity like this. The question is, who first in Greenville County or State Party will extend the Olive Branch and reunite the factions; or have there been too many disparaging comments made that will fuel emotions and actions that will hinder reunification.
For those who are not normally involved in politics and are wondering how messy things have gotten in Greenville and potentially the whole state of South Carolina, be reminded that this country was born with this kind of politics. Yes, our forefathers went through the same turmoil and intense debate that the Greenville County Party is experiencing in 2021.
Hopefully, the South Carolina Republicans can get their act together and unite, no matter who is in control. One thing is for sure - words can hit harder than a bullet. And what better way for Democrats to triumph and turn South Carolina blue than by cheering on Republicans as they devour one another without a single dueling bullet.
James Spurck is Managing Editor of The Times Examiner.