In South Carolina, The Grassroots Still Matter

|| by Will Galloway ||

George H. W. Bush;Carroll A. Jr. Campbell;J. Strom Thurmond
 

Then-Vice President George H.W. Bush and Sen. Strom Thurmond campaigning in S.C. to elect Gov. Campbell

 

Columbia – The Palmetto state is known, nationally at least, as the ruby red gem of the GOP. That’s not an unfair characterization – the Republican party holds the Governorship, both U.S. Senate Seats, substantial majorities in both legislative houses, six out seven congressional seats, and all of the constitutional offices. But this reality is very, very new.

From 1876 until 1974, there was not a single Republican governor of South Carolina. Last century, there were only 3 republicans in the governors mansion for a grand total of 16 years (half of those years were under one person, Gov. Carroll Campbell). At the beginning of this century, there Governor was a democrat. Until 2005, we had at least one democratic senator. One longtime midlands republican operative once told me that when she was a page in the state Senate, there were more Senators named “Smith” than there were Republican senators.

strom
 

Sen. Strom Thurmond with political strategist Lee Atwater. Both were instrumental in turning S.C. into a red state

 

When Congressman Joe Wilson spoke at the Teenage Republicans convention last spring, he told us stories of when he was campaigning to elect Richard Nixon in 1968, they didn’t campaign as the republican party, but as “independents for Nixon” and of the alienation that came to Congressman Floyd Spence when he switched parties to join the GOP.

So why am I writing about this? Because while the Republican Party and the conservative movement are on top of the South Carolina Political World at the moment, we cannot become complacent. It’s not enough to just vote in November and maybe in the primary, we need people to go door to door, make phone calls, attend events, and become informed. People like Strom Thurmond, Floyd Spence, Jim Edwards, and Carroll Campbell lit the flame of the Republican Party in South Carolina, but it is up to us to keep the flame alive.

It is imperative that we actively support conservative candidates at every level. I understand that presidential and statewide campaigns are the most fun, but the local and down ballot campaigns are some of the most important. Yes, the Department of Education will impact my life, but the members of my school board will impact me exponentially more. Yes, the governor will affect my roads, but my county officials will affect them far more.

We must remain incredibly vigilant to protect our conservative leadership in this state, and every one of us can play an important part.

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