After the recent elections, South Carolina is a deeper shade of red as Republicans swept all of the statewide offices. U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn now stands as the lone Democrat in the South Carolina Congressional delegation.
While the state GOP continues to bask in the glow of their latest successes, Winthrop University Political Science professor Scott Huffmon says a larger, more powerful; more influential party also means that divisions within the party structure may intensify. Huffmon says the battle for the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination featuring Congressman Gresham Barrett, Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, State Attorney General Henry McMaster, and now Governor-elect Nikki Haley was a preview of battles inside the state GOP yet to come.
Poltical observers say the Tea Party Movement has brought a new intensified “conservative” energy to the South Carolina Republican Party.
While U.S. Senator Jim DeMint’s stature in the national GOP has been elevated by the Tea Party, Senator Lindsey Graham has been targeted as a RINO (Republican in name only) because he’ll work on bipartisan compromises. But Huffmon says Graham’s voting record, overall is about 90 percent conservative.
Some political observers say that outgoing Republican Fourth District Congressman Bob Inglis was trounced by Congressman-elect Trey Gowdy in the GOP primary largely because he was targeted by the Tea Party in the Upstate.
Huffmon says the evolution of the state Republican Party from a fledging to a dominant party can be traced partly to the slow defection of older whites from the Democratic Party. Huffmon adds that new South Carolinians, especially retirees, from the Midwest and Northeast who have imported their “native Republicanism” with them has greatly aided in the expansion of the GOP in certain areas of the state.