The South Carolina Republican Party potentially could decide to forgo a 2020 primary election if President Trump runs for re-election -- but a concrete decision has not yet been made, state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick told Fox News Wednesday.
The Washington Examiner first reported the state party may abandon a primary this year to “protect” Trump – setting off a flurry of speculation about the South Carolina GOP’s plans for the upcoming election.
But McKissick stressed a decision would not be made until the party’s executive committee meets in the summer of 2019. Then, McKissick, along with one voting member from each county in the state, will determine their plan for a primary to submit to the Republican National Committee.
“The purpose of political parties is to unify around a platform and elect candidates who would advance that platform,” McKissick said, adding that the entire state party supports Trump in that regard.
“It is completely on the table that the executive committee will make one decision or another about a party. But nobody is pushing or prodding in any direction about doing it one way or another at this point,” he said. “Nobody was even thinking or talking about this before.”
TRUMP SAYS HE HOPES JOHN KASICH RUNS AGAINST HIM; KASICH ADVISER WARNS, ‘BE CAREFUL’
Should the state GOP opt out of a primary, it certainly wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in the Palmetto State. Republicans opted out of primary in 1984 during former President Ronald Reagan’s largely uncontested re-election bid and again in 2004 when former President George W. Bush ran for re-election.
Democrats, too, skipped primaries for former President Bill Clinton’s re-election bid in 1996 and former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012, according to The State newspaper.
Still, the idea the Republican Party was even considering scrapping the "First in the South" primary drew widespread condemnation among the state’s Democrats.
“The Republicans have themselves a pig in a poke. I don’t know why anyone is surprised as the Republicans have become experts at denying people the right to vote,” South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson told Fox News. “They have a president that half of the Republican base doesn’t support, and they want to deny them the right to vote.”