The two men vying for chairman of the South Carolina Republican party (SCGOP) had a bizarre confrontation on Monday evening following a party convention held in rural Hampton county. The terse exchange highlighted the growing acrimony between the two candidates – as well as the escalating bitterness among warring factions of the badly splintered party they hope to lead.
For those of you just catching up on this drama, incumbent SCGOP chairman Drew McKissick is seeking a third, two-year term at the helm of the party. During his first two terms, McKissick has been a glorified errand boy for former U.S. president Donald Trump – including playing a starring role in the extralegal cancelation of the 2020 “First in the South” Republican presidential primary.
Trump has rewarded McKissick by endorsing him in his reelection bid (twice) – even though the 52-year-old political operative is being challenged by one of Trump’s former election lawyers, Lin Wood.
Wood moved to South Carolina earlier this year to challenge McKissick, and his candidacy has quickly become an existential threat to the established “Republican” order. Even if McKissick wins reelection next month – an outcome his supporters insist is inevitable – the party could find itself permanently fractured heading into the 2022 election cycle.
Certainly, Monday evening’s exchange between the two candidates offered a glimpse into the expanding chasm …
The drama began when Wood – who allegedly heckled McKissick during his address to the county delegates – confronted the party chairman as he was leaving convention hall. During the ensuing exchange, Wood leveled a vague insinuation about McKissick and U.S. senator Lindsey Graham.
“I know about you and Lindsey,” Wood told McKissick. “You need to get out of the race now. Nothing can stop what’s going to come.”
“You don’t know anything,” McKissick fired back. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
An edited version of the exchange was posted to YouTube by the Republican Liberty Caucus of Greenville.