South Carolina Republican Party

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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 designate 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 also 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 also has nine electoral college votes for every Presidential election.


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:

  • Chairman: Matt Moore
  • National Committeewoman: Cindy Costa
  • National Committeeman: Glenn McCall
  • First Vice Chairman: Katrina Shealy
  • Second Vice Chairman: Nse Ekpo
  • Third Vice Chairman: Taylor Mason
  • Treasurer: Sharon Thomson
  • Secretary: Nikki Trawick
  • Secretary: Cindy Risher
  • Parliamentarian: Nate Leupp


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.[2] 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 between the Union and the newly minted Confederacy. In 1865, the conflict had finally 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, leaving the formerly powerful white officials without the money and political sway that they previously had enjoyed. The Republican Party of South Carolina was established during this time and controlled the politics of South Carolina throughout this period. When Reconstruction finally ended in 1877, however, white Democrats led by Wade Hampton took back control of the South Carolina government and dominated the political landscape for decades after. Thus, the formerly Confederate states had evolved into Republican states during Reconstruction only to form the Solid South dominated by the Democratic party once the Reconstruction Era of the United States ended. The control possessed by the Democratic party left 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.[3]

A milestone for the South Carolina Republican Party was September 16, 1964, when 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"[4] and 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".[5]

South Carolina's January 21, 2012 Republican Presidential Preference Primary was the party's largest ever, drawing over 600,000 participants despite terrible weather. Newt Gingrich won the race with 40.4% of the vote. The highly contested election set multiple state records for a presidential primary cycle, including five presidential debates and $13.2 million in television ads.[6]

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, Republican Mick Mulvaney became the representative of South Carolina's 5th congressional district, the first Republican to represent that district since Robert Smalls, the party's co-founder, held the seat in 1883.

In 2012, Republican Tom Rice became the representative of South Carolina's 7th congressional district, the first person to represent that district since it was eliminated in 1933.

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

Important past elected officials

Strom Thurmond (December 5, 1902 – June 26, 2003) was a United States Senator from South Carolina from 1954 to 2003. 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 in United States history after maintaining the position for 14 years.[7]

Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839- February 23, 1915) was an African-American slave in South Carolina that eventually became a free man, a war hero, and a politician. Born into slavery, Smalls was taken by his masters to Charleston, South Carolina in 1851 where he would work 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 men aboard the "Planter" seized control of the ship and successfully turned it and its cargo over to the forces of the Union Army. This act brought great acclaim to Smalls and would eventually lead to him being named the first African-American captain of U. S. military vessel. These acts of heroics would foster a political career for Smalls who would serve in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1868 to 1870 and the South Carolina State Senate from 1870-1874. Following this, he was elected to three terms in the United State House of Representatives. Smalls would also be the last Republican to win South Carolina's 5th Congressional District until 2010.[8] Robert Smalls was also among the founders of the South Carolina Republican Party.[9]

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.[10] 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 only have a beneficial effect on the state of South Carolina and the United States as a whole.[11]

See also


  1. South Carolina. (2011). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition, 1.
  2. "The Origins of the Republican Party." Web. <>.
  3. "South Carolina State Library - A Brief History of South Carolina." South Carolina State Library - Home. Web. <>
  4. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Brisendine, J. (2011). Strom Thurmond. Our States: South Carolina, 1.
  8. "Robert Smalls Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story -" Famous Biographies & TV Shows - Web. <>.
  9. "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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.
  11. "Platform." South Carolina Republican Party. Web. <>.

External links