Two South Carolina Republicans, including a former U.S. House member, have sued the state GOP over its decision last month to cancel its 2020 primaries, the Charleston Post and Courier reports.
Filed in Richland County on Tuesday, the lawsuit claims that party officials say that party officials’ decision to cancel their 2020 primary was a violation of the law as well as party rules.
“This case is about the failure of the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party of South Carolina to follow South Carolina law, the Republican Party’s own rules, and the South Carolina Constitution,” the complaint reads. “The result of that failure will be that plaintiffs [former GOP Rep.] Bob Inglis and Frank Heindel … will be deprived of the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice in South Carolina’s famous (and particularly influential) ‘First in the South’ primary.”
The plaintiffs go onto claim that while applicable rules and laws “don’t necessarily require a political party to hold a presidential preference primary election in all presidential election years,” they do “require that if a party wishes to cancel its primary, it must observe certain democratic safeguards that ensure that a party’s supporters—and not just a small junta of party bosses—support canceling the primary, and the party must instead choose which candidate it will support at its state convention.”
Leaders of the South Carolina GOP decided to forgo a 2020 primary in favor of supporting incumbent President Donald Trump almost unanimously in early September, just a day before former governor and U.S. House member Mark Sanford announced a primary bid against the president.
“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent President in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary, just as South Carolina Republicans did not hold one in 1984 or 2004, and Democrats did not in 1996 and 2012,” a party statement said at the time. “With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary.”
Back in July, a statement from South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick dismissed the potential of a Sanford primary run as a “vanity project.”
“The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his Governorship,” the statement said, referring to Sanford’s 2009 fiasco when he claimed to be hiking when actually going to visit his mistress in Argentina. “This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian trail.”
Also challenging Trump for the nomination are former Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. The pair held their own debate last week, which neither Trump nor Sanford attended.
Other state Republican parties have also canceled their 2020 primaries, including Kansas, Arizona, Nevada, and Alaska. (For more from the author of “Two Republicans Are Suing Over the Cancelled 2020 Primary” please click HERE)