South Carolina Republican Party

South Carolina Republican Party
Chairperson Matt Moore
Senate leader Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr.
House leader Jay Lucas
Founded 1867
Headquarters Columbia, South Carolina
Ideology Conservatism
Fiscal conservatism
Social conservatism
National affiliation Republican Party
Colors Red
Seats in the Upper House
28 / 46
Seats in the Lower House
78 / 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 1900s.

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[2] and staff[3] are:


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.[4] 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. 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.[5]

In the 1960s, the civil rights movement intensified in the South, and in early July 1964 the Civil Rights Act was passed, ending legal segregation in public accommodations. Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson had helped achieve its passage.

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."[6] 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".[7] 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 state and national offices, and also for local ones.

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.[8]

The state's February 20, 2016 Republican Presidential Preference Primary saw a new turnout record of over 740,000 voters. Donald J. 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 six of the state's seven U.S. House of Representatives seats.

In 2010, Nikki Haley became the first female and minority Governor of South Carolina. Also 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.

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 1995-2001.

Members of Congress

U.S. Senate

U.S. House of Representatives

Statewide offices

State Legislature

Important past elected officials

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.[12] 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.[13]

See also


  1. South Carolina. (2011). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.
  4. "The Origins of the Republican Party." Web. <>.
  5. "South Carolina State Library - A Brief History of South Carolina." South Carolina State Library - Home. Web. <>
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. "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.
  9. Brisendine, J. (2011). Strom Thurmond. Our States: South Carolina, p. 1.
  10. "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.
  11. "Robert Smalls Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -" Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Web. <>.
  12. "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.
  13. "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.
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