McKissick wins fourth term as chairman of South Carolina GOP after contentious race

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick won a fourth two year term, staving off a challenge from those who believe the party isn’t doing enough to push conservative values.

McKissick was challenged by Greenville County’s Jeff Davis, a leader of the My SCGOP movement, which advocated against COVID-19 precautions, such as wearing masks or vaccine requirements. Also in the race was Zoe Warren of Lexington County and Tim Cox of Charleston County. Denny Floyd of Anderson County also was nominated but withdrew before voting started.

McKissick carried 51.8% of the vote. In 2021 he had 68% of the vote when he was challenged by Lin Wood.

“The more choices people have, they might hear something that resonates with them a little bit more maybe and that’s fine. Everybody gets to put the name in a hat,” McKissick said. “I think you’ve had a lot of folks here today be able to get a more up-close look at some of the negativity. I think it does turn a lot of people off. Our job is to focus on what’s positive and actually do our job. Get people organized, identify Republicans, turn them out to vote, go win elections.”

McKissick said he expected his numbers would have been larger if he had only one challenger.

During McKissick’s time as chairman, Republicans in 2020 flipped back a Democrat-held seat, made more red in the last redistricting cycle, and secured their hold over U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Senate seat, defeating Democrat Jaime Harrison, who now chairs the Democratic National Committee.

In 2022, Gov. Henry McMaster won reelection by nearly 18 points.

The party now holds 88 seats in the S.C. state House and 30 seats in the state Senate, six out of the seven congressional districts, both U.S. Senate seats, and won all of the statewide constitutional officer positions in 2022.

“Our constitution matters, our platform matters,” McKissick said told convention goers. “We’re actually involved in this. We get engaged. The bottom line is, you can’t govern if you don’t win.”

McKissick had the support from some of the party’s top elected officials including McMaster and U.S. Rep. Russell Fry, R-Myrtle Beach.

“Drew is a good face of the party for South Carolina,” said former state Rep. West Cox of Anderson County. “He’s good at raising money. He’s good at organizing, as we’ve seen through all the election victories that have taken place and conversions of folks from Democrats to Republicans. And so he’s got a record of accomplishment as opposed to no record of accomplishment on the other side.”

The race for chairman showed divisions within the party about whether those elected are enacting enough conservative policies.

Ken Moran, of the Georgetown County, backed Davis’ election.

“The voter base reflects our conservative position and that’s not reflected in our party,” Moran said.

McKissick said even though 48% of convention goers voted for someone else, the party needs to come together to promote the party’s platform and work to elect Republicans.

“We can have conversations about who anybody thinks ought to do the job and that’s fine,” McKissick said. “Once the decision has been made, we got to go forward and we got to be productive and that’s what we’re gonna continue to do.”

McKissick will now be charged with running the First in the South Republican presidential primary, when two candidates are from the Palmetto State.

“South Carolina is going to be in the national spotlight and we got to have somebody, one, who knows how to do the job and, two, is going to stay focused on the positive productive direction for our party as we are in that national spotlight,” McKissick said.