South Carolina’s primary is slated for Feb. 29, 2020. If canceled, it would be the second state in the country and the first in the southern United States.
“It’s not, whatsoever, under consideration. It’s not been thought about, talked about, contemplated,” South Carolina GOP chairman Drew McKissick told The State.
“That (vote by the party’s executive committee) wouldn’t happen until summer 2019.”
McKissick made the statement after the Washington Examiner, quoting McKissick, said that the state could cancel its primary.
“We have complete autonomy and flexibility in either direction,” McKissick told the publication. “Considering the fact that the entire party supports the president, we’ll end up doing what’s in the president’s best interest.”
The Examiner noted that McKissick said that the state party executive committee hasn’t held any formal discussions about the primary, but said he would not rule out canceling the primary.
Several states have scrapped primaries in the past, including South Carolina. Republicans scrapped primaries in 2004 and 1984 as Presidents George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan ran for re-election; Democrats in the state did the same when Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama sought re-election.
In Iowa, the GOP canceled the primary in 1992 as President George H.W. Bush ran for re-election.
“You’re showing the support of your incumbent president” when a state doesn’t hold a primary, said Katon Dawson, the state’s former GOP chairman, told The State. “Certainly people have the right to have primaries and petitions. It’s a privilege for a party to do that.”
Dawson noted that it costs up to $3.2 million to hold a primary.
“We did not want to have a primary,” Luke Byars, a veteran Republican operative in South Carolina and the executive director of the state party in 2004, told the Examiner about that year.
“We had a meeting of executive committee, passed a resolution endorsing the president for re-election and said there would no Republican primary.”
Trump has maintained high approval ratings among Republicans and no formidable challengers have emerged as of yet. According to a December poll from Winthrop University, 80 percent of Republican or Republican-leaning Southerners approve of Trump, who handily won South Carolina in the 2016 presidential race and the Republican primary.
Top officials in South Carolina have regularly praised Trump, including Gov. Henry McMaster and former governor Nikki Haley, who recently announced she was resigning as ambassador to the United Nations to take time away from government positions.
“Now, the United States is respected. Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do,” Haley said at a joint press conference with Trump. “The U.S. is strong again and the U.S. is strong in a way that should make all Americans very proud.”
Haley said she would not run against Trump in 2020 and would support his re-election; he said he hopes she re-joins his administration in the future.