Judge Rules South Carolina GOP Can Cancel Primaries to Facilitate Trump’s Reelection
PoliticsVictor Westerkamp

A County judge has ruled that the South Carolina GOP has acted lawfully and in accordance with its statutes by canceling its 2020 Republican primaries to endorse President Trump’s reelection.

The law “does not give Plaintiffs a legal right to a presidential preference primary, and the Court will not substitute its own judgment for that of the General Assembly or the SCGOP,” Circuit Judge Jocelyn Newman wrote in her order on Wednesday, Associated Press reported.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of former South Carolina Republican congressman Bob Inglis and GOP voter Frank Heindel who wanted to use the South Carolina primary as a means for voters to execute their suffrages.

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision that presidential preference primaries are different than official primaries,” Cameron Kistler, a lawyer with Protect Democracy representing Inglis and Heindel,  said in a statement. “Party bosses shouldn’t be able to cancel elections and deny hundreds of thousands of voters their voice in selecting presidential candidates,” she said, according to The Hill.

However, the legal team of the party’s executive committee, who had decided to nix the primaries, was glad about the verdict and praised judge Newman for her understanding and siding with the South Carolina GOP.

“We are pleased that the judge agreed with us that we don’t have to waste taxpayer dollars holding a presidential primary to find out what we already know: that South Carolinians support President (Donald) Trump,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said, according to a statement from the party. “We also appreciate that the judge recognized that the S.C. GOP’s State Executive Committee followed the law, its party rules, and historical precedent,” The State reported.

On the complainant’s side of the aisle, there was disappointment. “We had hoped for an opportunity for all South Carolina Republicans to vote in the First in the South primary in 2020, but that is not to be,” Inglis said in a statement, according to the outlet.

Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) and former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) have launched long-shot campaigns to unseat Trump as GOP presidential candidate for the 2020 elections. Former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) dropped out in November.

NTD Photo
Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld delivers a campaign speech at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Iowa on Aug. 11, 2019. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Republican politician Mark Sanford
Former South Carolina Rep. Mark Sanford speaks in Central Park, New York on July 21, 2018. (Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

The lawsuit was initiated after Joe Jackson, a South Carolina GOP spokesman, confirmed that the party voted on Sept. 7 to not hold a primary in 2020, according to WCIV-TV.

“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. 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,” South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in a statement obtained by various media outlets.

“President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinians, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020,” he continued.

Canceling primaries, caucuses, and other voting is not an unusual move for the party of a White House incumbent seeking a second term and allows Trump room to consolidate his support as Democrats work to winnow down their large field of candidates.

According to The State, South Carolina Election Commission Spokesman Chris Whitmire said that candidates could still appear on South Carolina ballots during the general election.

Epoch Times reporter Allen Zhong and the Associated Press contributed to this article.