It will be interesting watching Republican candidates for President of the United States compete for the conservative vote, that in South Carolina’s open primary includes Christians, Libertarians, and Tea Party independents. They constitute a majority-voting block in the Palmetto State, however, somehow they always manage to have several candidates to split the vote and give an advantage to the most liberal candidate.

Jeb Bush, the obvious Republican Party elite favorite, will be aided by crossover Democrat voters. Half a dozen candidates will fight for the conservative voters that include the almost disenfranchised legitimate Republicans. This is part of the GOP/Bush strategy to help usher in a Bush primary victory in South Carolina.

Competing for the Conservative vote will be Gov. Scott Walker, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Senator Rick Santorum, Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz, Sen. Rand Paul and possibly others.

With a closed primary, Jeb Bush would not have a chance. However, the South Carolina Legislature and State Republican Party have stacked the deck.  As was demonstrated by the Lindsey Graham primary, a “moderate” candidate has the edge over a crowded conservative field in a primary in which anyone from illegal aliens who use Motor Voter registration to Communists can vote in South Carolina if they are registered to vote.

Among the Conservative candidates, Mike Huckabee will be a strong contender for the Baptist vote. He has name recognition from past elections and his television program on FOX. Huckabee is also a former Southern Baptist preacher. Cruz is also a Southern Baptist, but he is not a former preacher, although his father is.  Rick Santorum also has name recognition and is a favorite with Catholic voters. He is well-liked by South Carolinians and one of his sons graduated from the Citadel. He has the same negatives as Huckabee. He has had his chance and failed.  Many Conservative voters are sick and tired of those who ran and lacked the courage to tell the voters the truth about Barack Obama or the Republican Party failures.

For many Conservatives, that leaves only Walker, Jendall and Cruz as legitimate contenders. Sen. Rand Paul is still redefining himself and it is not clear what he will be next year. There is Carly Fiorina, who has not yet been classified as a Conservative or Moderate. She will not be a contender in South Carolina unless she spends time here.

Both Walker and Jindal have good track records as Governor. They have executive experience that Cruz does not have. The main thing that sets Cruz apart in this grouping is his willingness to speak the truth even when it gets him in trouble and his willingness to stand up, alone if necessary, to the self-appointed dictators in the Congress and in the RNC.

The Republican Party in South Carolina is on the verge of self-destruction. Rather than representing the Party Platform and the predominantly conservative grassroots, the state party leadership has virtually become an extension of the RNC and is pushing county party organizations in that direction.

In Greenville County, there is wide spread dissatisfaction. The party leadership reportedly has conducted a campaign to rid the Executive Committee of people who are not viewed as “team players.” Many of the people identified as Tea Party or libertarian leaning have been rooted out of the party and replaced with individuals that are perceived to be easily controlled.

Under current South Carolina Election Laws, political parties are little more than social clubs. Their authority to influence the selection of their candidates has been removed. In fact, a candidate is not required to have any contact with the party to become their candidate and use their party label.

Greenville County Republicans spent a lot of private funds and challenged the unconstitutional primary law in federal court but were betrayed by the State Party that resulted in loss of the case.

Unless South Carolina citizens take a strong stand and force the Legislature to change the election laws, the South Carolina Republican Party will become a footnote in history.

 

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Mike Scruggs