South Carolina Republican Primary

Republicans in Iowa and New Hampshire have given victories to two different Republican candidates and have narrowed the field from 16 to six candidates. As it becomes more clear that the Republican nomination will not be decided early, the South Carolina Primary will push candidates to compete in the Republican stronghold of the South, with the largest delegate haul outside of Super Tuesday, the aptly named “SEC Primary”. With just days until the votes will be counted, Republicans are ready for a massive turnout of motivated conservatives that will transform our party this November.

Since I participated in my first primary in 1980, South Carolina has transformed from a solid blue state in many respects to a red state that has voted for the Republican nominee in every presidential election. With the state House of Representatives and state Senate only switching control after the 1994 and 2000 elections, the strength of the Republican Party has been on the rise since the Reagan Revolution. The Republican Party has also strengthened its hold on the governorship of our state by winning four straight terms for members of our party.

As the former Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina, I am proud that my party represents diverse voices from across the realm of conservatism. Any of the six Republican candidates will be a far better president than Secretary Clinton or Senator Sanders. With a strong Republican field ready to take the reins of the presidency, Republicans in South Carolina-and nationwide-should take note of the enthusiasm that South Carolinians have shown for this process.

Although I continue to believe that frontrunner Donald Trump will win our state, I believe that results will be slightly better than any poll published has suggested. Further, I believe that the race for second, third, fourth and fifth place will be exceedingly competitive, with Governor John Kasich appealing to a wide swath of South Carolinians, Senator Marco Rubio appealing to the Country Club Republicans and Senator Ted Cruz appealing to evangelical voters and former President Bush campaigning with his brother to rally our state’s vast military population. Voters across the state tuned in to the Republican debate on CBS last Saturday with each of the Republican candidates and heard how each candidate will work to strengthen the economy while also protecting us from the threats of terrorist organizations, like ISIS.

With high turnout in the first primary and caucus, participation for the first-in-the-South primary is expected to be historic. With so much uncertainty underscoring the results of the first states, South Carolina will reset the race. As only one Republican has won the nomination without first winning South Carolina, voters must be prepared for unprecedented participation (i.e. long lines) due to the importance of our state’s results. Reflective of our state’s privileged role in the nomination process, we must make sure that when we make up our minds this next week, we consider which candidates will stand with us and best represent our values if elected.

To prepare for the primary, voters should first find their precinct location to vote this Saturday, February 20. If you are unable to vote on that day due to a conflict, you have the ability to vote absentee at your county election office until 5 p.m. on Friday. Voters should be prepared with a photo ID when they arrive at their polling location. Further, as party registration is open, voters that are not members of the Republican Party will still have the ability to participate. Make sure to arrive early to ensure that you will have enough time to cast your vote.

With all eyes on the Palmetto State this weekend, South Carolina Republicans must make sure to exercise our civic duty by participating in our state’s primary. So before casting your ballot, make sure you understand the issues that are important to you and where candidates stand. With strong participation in our state’s primary, we can send a message that our state is ready to elect a Republican President in November.