South Carolina Republican Party

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South Carolina Republican Party
ChairpersonDrew McKissick
Founded1867 by Robert Smalls
Headquarters Columbia, South Carolina
Ideology Conservatism
Political position Center-right to Right-wing
National affiliation Republican Party
Seats in the U.S. Senate
2 / 2
Seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
5 / 7
Statewide Executive Offices
9 / 9
Seats in the South Carolina Senate
27 / 46
Seats in the South Carolina House of Representatives
80 / 124

The South Carolina Republican Party and the South Carolina Democratic Party are the two major political parties within the U.S. state of South Carolina. The South Carolina Republican Party is an affiliate of the national Republican Party and has been the most influential political party within South Carolina since the late 1990s.

The political system in South Carolina

South Carolina elections select officials for the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the local, state, and federal levels of government. The state legislature is composed of a Senate containing 46 elected officials and a House of Representatives with 124 members. [1] On the federal level, citizens of South Carolina elect two senators and seven representatives to the United States Congress. The executive branch of South Carolina is headed by a governor elected to a four-year term. The state has nine electoral college votes in presidential elections.


The party is led by an elected group of state party officers, the South Carolina Republican Party State Executive Committee and paid staff. The state party organization is headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina.

The current state party officers are: [2]

  • Chairman: Drew McKissick
  • National Committeewoman: Cindy Costa
  • National Committeeman: Glenn McCall
  • First Vice Chairman: Cindy Risher
  • Second Vice Chairman: Leon Winn
  • Third Vice Chairman: Tyler Griffin
  • Treasurer and Comptroller: Sharon Thomson
  • Recording Secretary: Nikki Trawick
  • Parliamentarian: Nate Leupp
  • Executive Director: Hope Walker
  • First Congressional District Chairman: Maraide Sullivan
  • Second Congressional District Chairman: Craig Caldwell
  • Third Congressional District Chairman: Susan Aiken
  • Fourth Congressional District Chairman: Beverly Owensby
  • Fifth Congressional District Chairman: Freddie Gault
  • Sixth Congressional District Chairman: Sandra Bryan
  • Seventh Congressional District Chairman: Jerry Rovner
  • South Carolina Teenage Republicans Chairman: Patton Byars
  • South Carolina College Republicans Chairman: Will Galloway
  • South Carolina Federation of Republican Women President: Beverly Owensby
  • South Carolina Young Republicans Chairman: Sean Pumphrey

Former State Chairmen are: [3]


The Republican Party of the United States was founded during the 1850s in response to the political tensions that revolved around slavery and came to define that era. The Republican Party's goal was to abolish slavery and preserve the hierarchy of the national government over that of the states. [8] The ensuing years were marked by an increasing divide between northern and southern states that eventually boiled over when the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860. Other southern states followed and the Civil War of the United States began in 1861 between the Union and the newly minted Confederacy. In 1865, the conflict ended with the Union as the victor. Following this, the southern and formerly Confederate states were gradually reintroduced back into the Union of the United States with a process that came to be called the Reconstruction Era of the United States. Northern Republicans and freed slaves came to control the politics of South Carolina during this era, as Confederates were temporarily disenfranchised. The planter elite struggled to adapt to a free labor system. The Republican Party of South Carolina was established during this time and controlled the politics of South Carolina throughout Reconstruction. Democrats mounted increasing violence and fraud at elections from 1868 through the period, in an effort to suppress the black and Republican vote. In 1874, the paramilitary Red Shirts arose as a paramilitary group working openly to disrupt Republican meetings, suppress black voting and return Democrats to power. The most violence occurred in counties where blacks were a strong minority, as Democrats tried to reduce their challenge.

White Democrats led by Wade Hampton won the governorship and control of the state legislature in 1876. They dominated the state government for decades, controlling most candidates for governor and for national office. Freedmen were still able to elect Republicans to local office in some counties, giving them a say in daily government.

Following a brief coalition between the Republican Party and Populists in the late 19th century, the South Carolina legislature followed others in the South in passing a constitution to disenfranchise most blacks and many poor whites. The Constitution of 1895 was a departure from the Reconstruction Constitution of 1868 that aimed to keep the majority black population from voting. [9] However, the poll tax, property requirements and literacy requirements also keep poor whites from voting. By excluding blacks from politics, the Democrats secured their power and ended the Republican challenge. The legislatures passed such laws and constitutions from 1890 to 1908, turning most of the South into a one-party region dominated by Democrats. The Solid South disenfranchised large portions of its states' populations. The exclusion of freedmen and their descendants from the political system resulted in the South Carolina Republican Party with very little influence within the state for generations after. This control would last until the second half of the twentieth century. [10]

In the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement intensified in the South, and in early July 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed. The Act, passed with the support of Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson, ended legal segregation in public accommodations.

On September 16, 1964, Senator Strom Thurmond announced to a statewide television audience that he had switched parties from the Democrats to the Republicans, saying the Democratic "party of our fathers is dead." [11] He said it had "forsaken the people to become the party of minority groups, power-hungry union leaders, political bosses, and businessmen looking for government contracts and favors". [12] The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed the following year, restoring the ability of minorities to vote through federal oversight of registration and electoral processes. Most African Americans affiliated with the national Democratic Party, which had supported their struggle. White conservatives in South Carolina and other southern states gradually shifted from the Democratic to the Republican Party.

In 1974, James B. Edwards became the first Republican to be elected the Governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction. Since the late 20th century, South Carolina's white voters have increasingly supported Republican candidates at for local, state and national offices.

In 2010, Republican Mick Mulvaney was elected as the representative of South Carolina's 5th congressional district, the first Republican to represent that district since Robert Smalls, the party's co-founder, last held the seat in 1883. The election of Mulvaney was the first break in 100+ years of Democratic control in the State Legislature. [13] Also in 2010, Republican Nikki Haley was elected the first female Governor of South Carolina and the second Indian-American, after fellow Republican Bobby Jindal, to serve as a governor in the United States.

South Carolina's January 21, 2012 Republican Presidential Preference Primary was the party's then-largest ever, drawing more than 600,000 voters. Newt Gingrich won the race with 40.4% of the vote. The highly contested election set multiple state records for a presidential primary cycle; candidates held five presidential debates and spent $13.2 million in television ads. [14] Governor Haley, mentioned above, appointed Republic Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate. Scott is the first African-American senator from South Carolina and the first from the South since 1881. [15]

The state's February 20, 2016 Republican Presidential Preference Primary saw a new turnout record of over 740,000 voters. Donald Trump won the primary with 32.5% of the vote.

Current elected officials

The South Carolina Republican Party controls all nine of the nine statewide offices and holds large majorities in the South Carolina Senate and the South Carolina House of Representatives. Republicans also hold both of the state's U.S. Senate seats and five of the state's seven U.S. House of Representatives seats.

In 2012, Republican Tom Rice became the representative of South Carolina's 7th congressional district, newly re-established because of population gains. He is the first person to represent that district since it was eliminated in 1933.

In a 2013 special election, former Republican Governor Mark Sanford was elected as the representative of South Carolina's 1st congressional district, returning to the seat he previously held from 1995 to 2001.

Important past elected officials

  • Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was a United States Senator from South Carolina from 1954 to 2003. Thurmond served as a city and county attorney before he was elected to the South Carolina state senate in 1932. Following completion of military duty during World War II, Thurmond served as the governor of South Carolina from 1947 to 1951. [16]He was a member of the Democratic Party for a decade; it dominated all southern states until after passage of civil rights legislation in the mid-1960s. With other Dixiecrats, he resisted changes for social justice after the US Supreme Court ruled in 1954 that segregation of public schools was unconstitutional. In 1964 he switched to the Republican Party. He has held the records for longest senate career, oldest voting member of the Senate in history, the only Senator to reach 100 years of age while in office, the record for longest filibuster in senate history at 24 hours and 18 minutes, and the longest-serving Dean of the United States Senate, after maintaining the position for 14 years. [17]
  • Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839- February 23, 1915), one of the founders [18] of the South Carolina Republican Party, was an African-American slave in South Carolina who escaped to become a free man, war hero, and a politician. Born into slavery, Smalls was taken by his masters to Charleston, South Carolina in 1851; there he worked at several different labor jobs. At the onset of the Civil War in 1861, Smalls was hired to work aboard a steamship named Planter, which served as an armed transport for the Confederate Army carrying guns and ammunition. On May 13, 1862, he and other black crew aboard the Planter seized control of the ship and successfully turned it and its cargo over to the Union Army. Smalls gained heroic status and was appointed as the first African-American captain of a U. S. military vessel. After the war, Smalls entered politics and joined the Republican Party. He was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1868 to 1870 and the South Carolina State Senate from 1870 to 1874. Next, he was elected to three terms in the US House of Representatives from South Carolina's 5th congressional district. He was the last Republican to be elected from that district until 2010, as Democrats suppressed black voting and disenfranchised blacks at the turn of the century, fatally weakening the Republican Party. [19]

Current ideology and platform

The platform of the South Carolina Republican Party emphasizes a strict adherence to the United States Constitution. The platform is not meant to address each issue specifically but is aimed at outlining the principles upon which the Party is established. [20] The South Carolina Republican Party believes that following the principles of the platform, which include: limiting the power of the federal government, protecting personal liberty, remaining true to the founding principles of the United States, and protecting families, can have a beneficial effect on the state of South Carolina and the United States as a whole. [21]

See also


  1. ^ South Carolina. (2011). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The Origins of the Republican Party." Web. <>.
  9. ^ "Constitution of 1895 stripped blacks, poor whites of vote, still rules SC 120 years later". thestate. Retrieved 2018-05-16.
  10. ^ "South Carolina State Library - A Brief History of South Carolina." South Carolina State Library - Home. Web. < "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2011-12-15.CS1 maint: archived copy as title ( link)>
  11. ^ Holden, Charles J. (2002). In the Great Maelstrom: Conservatives in Post-Civil War South Carolina. University of South Carolina Press. p.  114. ISBN  1-57003-476-1. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  12. ^ Cohodas, Nadine (1995). Strom Thurmond and the Politics of Southern Change. Mercer University Press. p. 359. ISBN  0-86554-446-8. Retrieved 2011-05-06.
  13. ^ "The SCGOP - The S.C. Republican Party". Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  14. ^ "TV ads didn't pay off in S.C." The State. Retrieved 2012-01-24. GOP presidential candidates combined to spend $13.2 million on TV ads leading up to the South Carolina Republican primary.
  15. ^ "The SCGOP - The S.C. Republican Party". Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  16. ^ "U.S. Senate: Strom Thurmond: A Featured Biography". Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  17. ^ Brisendine, J. (2011). Strom Thurmond. Our States: South Carolina, p. 1.
  18. ^ "Yearning to Breathe Free". University of South Carolina Press. Retrieved 2011-05-06. A founder of the South Carolina Republican Party, Smalls was elected to the state house of representatives, the state senate, and five times to the United States Congress.
  19. ^ "Robert Smalls Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -" Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Web. <>.
  20. ^ "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.
  21. ^ "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.

External links