Last week, S.C. Republican Party chairwoman Karen Floyd announced her resignation today after one of the most successful election periods in the history of the party. She ran to replace outgoing chairman Katon Dawson last May, and her term would have ended next year. Floyd is the first woman to ever hold the post.
The gains by state Republicans during her watch are nothing short of amazing. On Election Day, Republicans won every statewide office on the ballot, giving conservatives a singular chance at enacting reforms that will make a significant impact in moving South Carolina forward in everything from job creation to education to limiting government. As well, House Republicans now hold their largest majority ever, with a chance to pick up another seat in a special election in December.
On the Congressional front, it was nothing but an unqualified victory. Sen. Mick Mulvaney upset 28-year incumbent John Spratt in the Fifth District, while U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson fought off his well-financed challenger to win by a larger margin than he did just two years earlier. Also, in the First District, Rep. Tim Scott became the first black Republican elected to the U.S. House from South Carolina since Reconstruction. The GOP held other seats with new, energetic candidates – Rep. Jeff Duncan in the Third and Solicitor Trey Gowdy in the Fourth.
In addition, Floyd helped build bridges between the SCGOP and state Tea Party groups. Tea Partiers were solidly behind the candidacy of Gov.-elect Nikki Haley, and helped provide the difference in her three-point win over the Democrat nominee. They also bolstered the candidates up and down the ballot with volunteering and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, reflecting on last week’s announcement, said, “On behalf of South Carolina’s Republican State Senators, I want to thank Karen Floyd for her service to our state and our party. She didn’t just win this cycle. She beat our friends across the aisle into submission. She pushed our party more to its conservative roots, built bridges with the Tea Party movement, made our party more diverse and technologically advanced and she helped keep our vital First in the South status. And she did it all during a tough time of change and controversy. The effects of Karen’s dedication and hard work will be felt for many years.”
Before becoming chair of the party, Floyd was a successful businesswoman in Spartanburg, running the Palladian Group, a global marketing, research and technology firm. Before that she had been vice president for Flagstar Corporation, a prosecutor and a chief magistrate. She made a bid for public office in 2006, losing the state superintendent of education race by the smallest margin in South Carolina history.