Judge Could Soon Order SC Republicans to Hold 2020 Primary
WASHINGTON – A circuit court judge in South Carolina heard more than two hours of oral arguments Friday in a lawsuit challenging the state GOP executive committee’s vote last month to forgo a 2020 Republican presidential primary.
In the end, Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman indicated her ruling will be handed down in a matter of weeks. If she does ultimately decide the case in favor of the plaintiffs, the state Republican primary will be held Feb. 29, 2020.
Drew McKissick, South Carolina’s GOP chairman has argued that given President Donald Trump’s incumbency and continued popularity among voters in the state, a primary is unnecessary.
He’s said to hold a contest anyway would waste an estimated $1.2 million in taxpayer funds just to confirm a foregone conclusion.
In addition, an attorney for the state party said Friday that the executive committee’s actions last month were not unusual. State Republicans also opted not to hold presidential primaries in 1984 and 2004, when Republican presidents were running for re-election, and the S.C. Democratic Party did the same in 1996 and 2012.
But earlier this month, former Rep. Bob Inglis and another Republican voter, Mount Pleasant businessman Frank Heindel, sued the state party over the decision, arguing it violated party rules and state election law.
In a statement, Inglis said, “I am asking the court to require that the South Carolina Republican Party Executive Committee follow its own rules and the law.
“A small handful of party insiders broke the law to deny me — and every other South Carolina Republican — our voice in picking our nominee for president,” he said.
A central question raised during Friday’s hearing was whether state voters have a right to participate in a presidential primary election?
“If we’re talking about a June primary or a general election, then absolutely, the right to vote is sacrosanct,” argued attorney Butch Bowers, who is representing the state party.
“Here, we have a [presidential preference primary],” Bowers said. “If a party decides they want to nominate by convention, they can do so. And if they do so, that means that voters don’t have the right to vote.”
Bowers and co-counsel, Robert Tyson, Jr., went on to argue voters have other ways to participate in the selection of Republican National Convention delegates, such as participating in county and precinct conventions to choose the delegates who ultimately get to attend the national party convention where a nominee is selected.
But attorney Bess Durant, who represented Inglis and Heindel, said she didn’t see how the selection of delegates could be considered “in the same category or even the realm of the right to vote.”
“This is not fair and this is not proper,” DuRant said of the GOP’s decision not to have a primary.
She also noted that party rules require officials to begin the process of canceling the primary two years before the actual contest.
Because it didn’t do that, Durant contends the GOP is bound by a provision of law that says parties wishing to hold a convention rather than a primary must obtain the support from both three-fourths of the attendees of its convention and from the majority of voters in that primary.
Lawyers for the GOP countered that state law — which focuses on changing from presidential primary to convention nomination — only applied if the party were to decide to participate in the primary.
Newman closed the hearing asking both sides to submit a proposed order to her within ten days.
In The News
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A Republican candidate saw her vote lead dwindle to single digits Wednesday in Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District as a dramatic recount moved toward a conclusion in a race that will help determine the size of Democrats’ majority in the House of... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — As coronavirus cases surge again nationwide the Supreme Court late Wednesday barred New York from enforcing certain limits on attendance at churches and synagogues in areas designated as hard hit by the virus. The justices split 5-4 with new Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the... Read More
Throughout the 2020 election cycle a persistent narrative was just how divided the United States has become. But an as-yet uncalled House race in Iowa is taking the concept of a nation equally divided between Republicans and Democrats to a whole new level. Since Monday, the... Read More
HARRISBURG, Pa. - It wasn't the kind of breaking news one expected while scanning Pennsylvania's all news radio stations for word on the state certifying the 2020 election results. "Now back to our top story," one news anchor after another said over the course of the... Read More
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Bookvar certified the results of the 2020 presidential election Tuesday, after all 67 counties in the state certified their individual results late Monday night. A short time later, as required by federal law, Gov. Tom Wolf signed the... Read More
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin's partial presidential recount entered its fourth day Monday, with very few changes in vote totals as President Donald Trump's attorneys appeared to be focused on a legal challenge seeking to toss tens of thousands of ballots, including the one cast by... Read More