Chad Connelly was elected to another term as chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party over the weekend.
He spent all day Monday campaigning for the party’s current congressional candidate Mark Sanford. Tuesday’s special election is expected to be close for the seat that had been held by Republican Tim Scott.
“I knew it would be close because anytime you have a special election the other side that’s not the one holding the seat sees it as an opportunity,” Connelly said Monday.
Connelly is a former civil engineer who now owns a consulting and motivational coaching business.
Connelly says there were unprecedented successes and problems in this first term:
“Nobody likes losing nationally but here in South Carolina we added two (South Carolina) House seats, we added a (state) Senate seat, we got rid of Jake Knotts, and we added Tom Rice to the Congress,” he said.
However, Connelly was also the SCGOP leader during a controversial 2012 primary season, when the SC Supreme Court booted over 200 Republican and Democratic candidates off the ballot for improperly-filed financial disclosure forms. Many of the candidates said they had simply followed their own party’s instructions.
The national GOP criticizes itself for lack of diversity, but Connelly says the state party here is different:
“That really is national media narrative that just doesn’t sit in South Carolina. See also Tim Scott and Nikki Haley, but it’s a whole lot deeper than that. We had three black guys run for state legislature this past time (and) couldn’t get any media to cover it,” says Connelly. “So we’re the ones defying the odds.”
About the state being the first-in-the-South for presidential primary– Connelly says there was good news.
“It’s early to be talking presidential, but there’s no question about it, we’re going to be right square in the middle of the national picture again,” says Connelly.
In the presidential convention, the South Carolina Party was penalized delegates for moving its primary date to stay first in the South. There were also some fears about backlash after South Carolina Republicans were the only state to give Newt Gingrich the most support.
Ashley Byrd contributed to this report