About Us

It began in a little schoolhouse in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854. A small group of dedicated abolitionists gathered to fight the expansion of slavery, and they gave birth to a Party dedicated to freedom and equal opportunity.

The name “Republican” was chosen, alluding to Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party and conveying a commitment to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Party was formally organized in July 1854 by thousands of anti-slavery activists at a convention in Jackson, Michigan. And it was no accident that two years later, in 1856, the first Republican National Convention took place in Philadelphia, where the Constitution was written.

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but it was the entire Republican Party who freed the slaves. The 1864 Republican National Convention called for the abolition of slavery, and Congressional Republicans passed the 13th Amendment unanimously, with only a few Democrat votes.

The South Carolina Republican Party was established in 1867 following the end of the Civil War. Robert Kingston Scott, South Carolina’s first Republican governor, was elected in 1868. In 1870, Republican Joseph Rainey was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first directly-elected African American member of Congress. During the Reconstruction era (1865-1877), six African American Republicans, including Rainey, represented South Carolina in the U.S. Congress.

Following Reconstruction, Democrats dominated South Carolina politics for generations. History turned in 1964, when U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond announced to a statewide television audience that he was switching to the Republican Party. Ten years later, in 1974, Charleston dentist James B. Edwards was elected as the first Republican governor of South Carolina since Reconstruction. Since then, Republicans have earned majorities across state government. At the end of the 20th century, South Carolina Republicans broke the Democrats’ 100+ years of control in the State Legislature.

In 2010, South Carolina Republicans made history again by electing Nikki Haley as governor. She was South Carolina’s first minority and female governor. In 2012, Governor Haley herself made history by appointing Republican Tim Scott to the United States Senate. Scott is the first African-American senator from South Carolina and the first from the South since 1881.

2014 was the most successful election cycle in the State Party’s history with eleven (11) statewide victories. Senator Tim Scott became the first African-American U.S. Senator to win election in the South since Reconstruction. Governor Haley was re-elected with the largest margin of victory for a governor in twenty-four years.

South Carolina Republicans now hold six out of seven U.S. Congressional seats, both U.S. Senate seats, and nine out of nine Statewide Constitutional offices.

Our Vision

South Carolina Republicans have always had a front row seat to history. Beginning with Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980, South Carolina’s “First in the South” Presidential Primary has been an important test for Presidential candidates. Our Presidential primaries have unique characteristics and demographics that are reflective of the national electorate, and therefore a much stronger indicator than the other early primaries and caucuses. We take our Presidential primaries very seriously – We Pick Presidents!

Our platform for the 21st century is one of prosperity through freedom and opportunity for all Americans.

Our Leadership

Past Chairmen of the South Carolina Republican Party

  • c. 1925-1931 Joseph W. “Tie-Less Joe” Tolbert
  • c. 1932-1936 D.A. Gardner
  • 1938-1952 J. Bates Gerald
  • 1958-1962 Gregory D. Shorey, Jr.
  • 1963-1965 J. Drake Edens, Jr.
  • 1965-1968 Harry S. Dent
  • 1968-1971 Raymond A. Harris
  • 1971-1974 C. Kenneth Powell
  • 1974-1976 Jesse L. Cooksey
  • 1976-1980 Daniel I. Ross, Jr.
  • 1980-1986 Dr. George G. Graham
  • 1987-1989 Van D. Hipp, Jr.
  • 1990-1993 Barry D. Wynn
  • 1993-2002 Henry McMaster
  • 2002-2009 Katon Dawson
  • 2009-2011 Karen Floyd
  • 2011-2013 Chad Connelly
  • 2013-2017 Matt Moore
  • 2017- Drew McKissick

Our Platform

The platform of the South Carolina Republican Party is intended to identify and clearly establish the fundamental principles for which our Party stands. It is not intended to address every issue currently being discussed in the political arena. Similar to the original intent of the Constitution of the United States, this Platform, when its principles are followed, should lead to an appropriate resolution of specific issues. The platform can only be amended at State Conventions.


Resolutions are passed either by the State Executive Committee or by State Conventions. Under State Party rules, “No resolutions or platform changes shall be considered by the State Convention that shall not have received the prior approval of at least one county convention, the State Executive Committee, or a Platform and Resolutions committee appointed by the State Executive Committee.”

2019 SCGOP State Convention Resolutions (1)

2019 SCGOP State Convention Resolutions (2)

2019 SCGOP State Convention Resolutions (3) (dragged)

2019 SCGOP State Convention Resolutions (4)

Supporting Ethics Reform in South Carolina – December 9, 2015
Honoring the Life of Martha C. Edens – December 9, 2015
Opposing a Carbon Tax – December 9, 2015
Regarding Election of Delegates and Alternates to the 2016 Republican National Convention – August 22, 2015
The following ten (10) 2015 State Convention resolutions were passed unanimously by the State Executive Committee on August 22, 2015. The resolutions were not considered at the 2015 State Convention:

Honoring Governor James B. Edwards
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on January 24, 2015)

Regarding The S.C. Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
(Originally passed by the Richland County Republican Party Convention on April 17, 2015)

Regarding teaching the Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Federalist Papers in Public Schools
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on May 3, 2014)

On restoring parental authority in public education
(Originally passed by the York County Republican Party Convention on April 11, 2015)

Regarding the Local Government Fund
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on January 24, 2015)

Calling For U.S. Senate Approval of Any Treaty with Iran
(Originally passed by the Orangeburg County Republican Party Convention on April 18, 2015)

Supporting The Nation of Israel
(Originally passed by the Orangeburg County Republican Party Convention on April 18, 2015)

Supporting Establishment of “Cold War Victory Day”
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on August 16, 2014)

Demanding implementation delay and rewrite of advanced placement (AP) U.S. History curriculum framework
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on August 16, 2014)

Remembering fallen Law Enforcement Officers and honoring those who serve in the line of duty
(Originally passed by the State Executive Committee on January 24, 2015)

Supporting Governor Haley’s Tax Reform Plan – January 24, 2015
Honoring Governor James B. Edwards – January 24, 2015
Supporting Closed Primaries – January 24, 2015
Remembering Fallen Law Enforcement Officers and Honoring Those Who Serve in the Line of Duty – January 24, 2015
Regarding the Local Government Fund – January 24, 2015
Regarding Article V Convention of States – January 24, 2015

First in the South:

Since 1980, just one candidate has won the Republican nomination for United States President without first winning South Carolina’s Republican Primary.

Notice a pattern? Since 1980, when Lee Atwater help establish our state’s “First in the South” Primary, our state has almost always selected the eventual nominee. South Carolina Presidential Preference Primaries have unique characteristics and demographics which are more reflective of the national electorate at large – and therefore a much stronger indicator than any of the other earlier primaries or caucuses. We take our primaries very seriously – We pick presidents!

In the year 2000, South Carolina held a then-record setting presidential preference primary. Then-governor George W. Bush was propelled to the GOP nomination for President after winning South Carolina’s make-or-break GOP Presidential Primary. Bush had lost in New Hampshire to Senator McCain and it set up a bruising few weeks of non-stop, 24 hour media attention on the Palmetto State. That year, a whopping 573,101 South Carolina Republicans voted in the Presidential Primary.

George W. Bush was particularly strong in the upstate where voter turnout was heaviest – winning Greenville (42,846 out of 73,281 votes) and Spartanburg (21,736 out of 37,159 votes) Counties with 58%. Bush was also strong in the Midlands where he carried Lexington County (25,990 out of 45,277 votes) with 57% and Richland County (21,955 out of 44,822 votes) with 49%. Senator John McCain was strong on the coast where he carried Horry (14,763 out of 27,735 votes) and Beaufort (11,276 out of 21,212 votes) Counties with 53% – though Bush carried Charleston (22,380 out of 47,269 votes) with 47%. The next day’s headlines told of a monumental Victory…

“I believe because of this vote today that I will be the next President of the United States.”
– Gov. George W. Bush, Feb. 19, 2000

On January 21, 2012, a new record of 603,770 voters turned out in horrible weather to deliver victory to former Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich’s surprising victory was sparked by two dramatic presidential debates held in South Carolina in the week prior to the election. Election night headlines showed a presidential nomination race that was up for grabs:

“Surprising his rivals and scrambling the Republican race for the presidency, Newt Gingrich won the pivotal South Carolina primary Saturday…”

– The New York Times, January 21, 2012

“Just days after Mitt Romney seemed poised for a three-for-three streak in the opening presidential primaries, Newt Gingrich ensured the nomination fight will drag on…”

– FoxNews.com, January 21, 2012



I do not choose to be a common man.

It is my right to be uncommon.

If I can seek opportunity, not security, I want to take the calculated risk to dream and build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for dole.

I prefer the challenges of life to guaranteed security, the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia.

I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout.

I will never cower before any master, save my God.

It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid. To think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations; to face the whole world boldly and say, “I am a free American.”


The South Carolina Republican Party’s rules guide the State Party’s operations and are intended to help resolve conflicts that arise in elections or other party matters. The rules can only be amended at State Conventions.