By Alex Rogers
South Carolina’s big First-in-the-South presidential primary will be on February 29. Most of the Democratic candidates are holding two or three campaign events per day. There is always an untold story down here. So, here goes.
No GOP Primary
A decision was made by the formerly NeverTrump RNC leadership to nix our GOP primary. It was a clear violation of law. Based local activists took it to court. It should have been a slam dunk. SCGOP Party rule 11 (b) explicitly states that “unless decided otherwise by the state party convention within two (2) years prior to each presidential election year, the South Carolina Republican Party shall conduct a statewide presidential preference primary”—one that “preserve(s) South Carolina’s ‘First-in-the-South’ status.” South Carolina state law also backs up the rules of the Republican and Democratic parties and specifically references this party rule.
Activists took it to Circuit Court. Amazingly, the decision fell into the lap of Judge Joycelyn Newman, the young African-American daughter of a fellow circuit court blacktivist judge and Lindsey Graham ally, Clifton Newman.
Judge Joycelyn’s ruling shocked the state’s legal community. Her brief statement said, flatly: “The SCGOP’s state executive committee acted well within its discretion according to state law and party rule, customs, and precedent.” However, Judge Joycelyn failed to name any rules, customs or precedents. The inside job was essentially decided in the dark of night with an iron fist holding the grassroots’ mouths shut at the SCGOP state convention last spring.
Grassroots indignation was directed at Trump campaign operatives who did everything in their power to avoid anyone asking these questions:
1) Who told the party that breaking its rules/state law was in Trump’s best interest?
2) Was the party instructed to cancel its primary?
3) When was the directive communicated?
4) Was the Trump reelection campaign involved?
5) Was anyone in the White House involved?
6) Was Trump involved?
Trump himself amplified his strong showing in the New Hampshire primary with this tweet:
Trump received 129,696 votes in the uncontested New Hampshire primary, while Bernie Sanders won with only 76,302 votes. So, Trump himself sees this as good optics. Note: It’s just lipstick on a pig. Bernie is coming in at a five-point edge over Trump in a New Hampshire general election, which is data that bears out when you dig deeper. Hillary only beat Trump in N.H. by 0.4 percent.
In South Carolina, Trump would have probably won our primary with 99 percent of the vote. A Bill Weld challenge down here would have been a good thing for energizing Trump’s base. Any challenge from Trump’s left would energize his base with echoes of 2016, but that’s not happening.
No one thought Mark Sanford would beat Trump in our S.C. primary. Sanford withdrew his candidacy when Judge Joycelyn delayed her decision beyond the 90-day deadline for the SCGOP to notify the State Election Commission of an election. She could have spared herself embarrassment in the legal community by not being so ham-fisted in her ruling, but there were party fears that we might actually be able to hold a vote. As everyone in politics down here knows, black judges and agency heads do whatever Lindsey Graham tells them to do.
What is the end goal? Why cancel our primary? What was the GOP afraid of? And why didn’t they want good press for Trump?
No More Red State Nominees
A real red state primary has always been a good thing for the GOP. Ever since South Carolina became the First-in-the-South primary 40 years ago, we have been the red state that sent out the beacon call across the nation for grassroots voters. We are the litmus test, and we’ve been a damn good one. This is not to defend the past winners of our primary, but it is true that our early vote tipped the balance and swayed the GOP from even worse nominees. Ever since 1980, Iowa and New Hampshire winners almost always go on to lose the nomination. GOP voters across the nation have followed our lead. Whoever wins S.C. wins almost everywhere else onward.
The real GOP goal was to end this red state Palmetto base amplifier. The goal is to shift us from an open primary where Trump-style nationalists succeed, to a closed primary where the party establishment can tip the scales to a higher degree. Those who opposed Trump in 2016 want to reduce the impact of the people of South Carolina in presidential and other statewide elections. They’re using Trump to get rid of our primary or to water down its ability to represent our voters. This means that from now on, the beltway GOP can propel more candidates like McCain, Romney, Jeb, and Lindsey Graham. Lindsey was joined at the hip with McCain and has already run for president once.
How did they pull this off? Meet Stacy Shea.
Stacy is the organizer of ‘Trump 2-29,’ an organization focused on getting GOP voters to crossover and vote for Bernie Sanders in the S.C. Democratic primary on February 29. She claims her mission is to stop the Joe Biden juggernaut. But, as we can see already, Biden has been stopped long before our primary. So, what is Stacy’s real goal? A quick glance into her online presence reveals that she has roots in NeverTrump activist circles.
Her goal is to use this year’s S.C. Democratic presidential primary to lay claim to Biden’s downfall. This could be argued as evidence that S.C. should change to a closed primary so that Democrats could not sway our primary like she did to theirs. This is purely astroturf to give ground for Lindsey Graham in a 2024 presidential campaign. Oddly enough, Lindsey’s opponents have long-thought that closed state primaries would help defeat Lindsey in 2014 and 2020, but Lindsey’s eyes are on a bigger prize now.
This proves the national trend that NeverTrump has hijacked the Trump train. This was always true from the days of 2015 Trump campaign staffing, but now the grassroots astroturf is setting in as a replacement for Trump voters ourselves. While Trump enjoys the support of people like Stacy and Lindsey, he’s not getting anything in return other than an ego stroke job. These people are neutralizing GOP base voters with bait-and-switch politics and simultaneously using a handful of normie GOP voters to decide the future of the Democratic Party. That future? Candidate MMT.
Bernie’s 4-D Chess Fail
In walks Dick Harpootlian. Harpootlian was a 1990s S.C. ally of Bill Clinton—always on the Progressivist edge and a local leader in SWPL Democratic Party politics. He has been at the center of most SCDP infighting for a generation and served twice as the state party chairman. He was elected to the state senate in 2018, and has been on a warpath of Bernie Sanders-style reforms to hand over power to attendees of local synagogues.
While staying extremely vocal in county and state politics, very few people noticed Harpootlian’s early and quiet endorsement of Joe Biden. Harpootlian slid his way in as Spokesman for the S.C. Biden campaign.
Then came this tweet:
This sent the SCDP into full-swing chaos. At the New Hampshire Democratic debate on February 7, Tom Steyer accused Biden of harboring a racist. Steyer demanded in the debate that Biden distance himself from Harpootlian. Biden, confused, replied that Harpootlian “was, I believe, sorry for what he said.”
Harpootlian wasn’t sorry. Not at all. He came out firing, doubled down and accused Govan of taking a bribe: “[H]e told me he was with Joe Biden until Mr. Moneybags showed up. This is what happens when billionaires get involved, whether it’s Donald Trump or Tom Steyer. They don’t have to persuade anybody. They just buy them.”
Immediately, prominent S.C. State Representative and Chairman of the Black Caucus, Todd Rutherford, demanded that Harpootlian apologize for implying that an elected official would accept a bribe just because he was black: “[Harpootlian’s] refusal to do so will not go over well in the black community, and it certainly will not go over well with members of the Black Caucus that are standing behind me.” About half of its 45 members removed their endorsements of Biden.
This is the first time in state history that the black vote will be divided. The heaviest black vote in the state is Richland County, and their white gay Democratic Party Chairman has been unofficially affiliated with Steyer for months. Biden’s numbers are tumbling in S.C., just like elsewhere. There are rumors that internal polls show both Steyer and Sanders surging ahead of Biden. Buttigieg, Warren and others are in single digits.
Was all of this planned? There were only a few polls in S.C. over the last few months with the goal of juking numbers to astroturf Biden and conceal the Steyer surge from the Bernie campaign. Then Harpootlian hit Biden. Steyer was standing there ready to pick up the baton. You almost have to feel bad for crazy Dick.
Harpootlian made a genius move. He prides himself on being “a dick to everyone equally.” He’s part of a hardened core of white Southern progressive Democrats who were burned hard in 2016 by Hillary and Debbie Wasserman Shultz. Dick and his tiny cabal of white Democrats went all in for Bernie four years ago. When Hillary won the nomination, they turned inward and quit talking to everyone outside their inner circle. They did great local leftwing taqiyya and placed themselves into positions of party leadership. They fought for power, reached a detente with the far right, and took down a hefty chunk of moderate Republicans. Harpootlian himself and some of his friends got elected to offices.
They’ve been looking for opportunities. Dick disguised himself as a Biden surrogate. Then, in the final hours before the New Hampshire debate, he dropped his now-infamous tweet to piss off Biden’s black supporters. It was perfectly timed to take advantage of the demand for white optics up north while sending shockwaves down here.
It worked. The black vote is fractured. Has this ever happened? Ever?
Will this plan work for Sanders? I doubt it. Sanders got 26 percent in S.C. in 2016. Hillary got 73 percent. Without the super delegates, Biden needed to get significantly more than Hillary’s 73 percent to be on track to win with her coalition. He overestimated the hill he had to climb, and now he’s reaping the consequences.
Sanders supporters overestimated their hill too. While they can land punch after punch on the Biden beating bag, a betting man would not guess that Sanders, Harpootlian and company will get their way. They will feel the bern until it becomes nihilism.
Blacks don’t like the optics of white Progressives. Like Jerry Govan, they go with Mr. Moneybags. No matter how hard Bernie Bros hit, it won’t win them any love. Even S.C.’s most African-American State Representative, Gilda Cobb Hunter, has been hired by the Steyer campaign. Steyer is probably the S.C. placeholder and trial balloon for Bloomberg MMT retail politics. Their campaign strategies are similar. Just buy the majority minority vote.
I’m calling my state as leaning Steyer, probably Sanders second, and Biden third. It forebodes of a Bloomberg Super Tuesday.