Is The SCGOP Chair Race Over?

In a little over three weeks, the South Carolina Republican Party will select a new chairman to replace outgoing chair Karen Floyd.  At this point, Newberry County GOP Chairman Chad Connelly has the position wrapped up.

Last week, Greenville Country GOP Chair Patrick Haddon dropped out of the race for the state job – despite repeated claims to having the position “locked up” – and advanced the name of Orangeburg favorite son Bill Connor. An attorney, former candidate for Lt. Governor and Afghanistan veteran, Connor was caught off-guard by Haddon’s endorsement, but jumped in at the 11th hour, buoyed by calls and emails for him to enter the race.  That decision has come way too late and since his announcement, Connor has had to face a barrage of endorsements for Connelly by some of the most powerful people in South Carolina.

Chad Connelly has officially been running for SCGOP Chair since January and, in doing so, has visited and spoken to every county party organization in the state.  He has been tireless, an energy the next state chair is going to need.  Had Bill Connor joined the race months ago, Connelly’s front-runner status may not have solidified.  Philosophically, the two are identical and each have individual attributes that enhance their viability for the office.  But it’s more than Connelly’s energy and Connor’s tardiness that gives Chad the advantage.

There has been the usual unfortunate whisperings and mud-slinging about several candidates for SCGOP Chair.  Palmetto State politics is a voraciously carnivorous sport in which no one escapes without wounds.  I suppose it’s what one expects in a state in which no matter whether one bleeds orange or garnet, the point is to draw blood and check the scoreboard at the end.  Well, the scoreboard is showing a blow-out for Chad Connelly.

At this writing, Connelly has secured the endorsements of 56 SCGOP Executive Committee Members and scores of elected officials and party activists.  Of them all, the ones that sealed Connelly’s selection have come in the last week.

State Treasurer Curtis Loftis and Congressmen Jeff Duncan and Mick Mulvaney – three of South Carolina’s most powerful public figures – announced that they are backing Connelly since Bill Connor got into the race.  Further, I believe it likely that Congressmen Joe Wilson, Trey Gowdy and Tim Scott will also support Connelly before or at the SCGOP State Convention on May 7.

These public seals of approval do more than state a preference; they form the beginnings of a much needed party unity and an institutional inclusion of the Tea Party folks.  Loftis, Duncan and Mulvaney are champions of the Tea Party and their endorsement of Chad Connelly is a not-so-subtle notice that he is the person who can bring the Tea Party to the … well, the Party.

There is much Bill Connor can do for South Carolina and voters will give him that opportunity in the future, but this is not the job and now is not the time.

At the same time, South Carolina Republicans aren’t “settling” with Chad Connelly.  He’s immensely qualified for the position of state chair and will certainly accomplish what is needed and expected.

So, is the SCGOP Chair race over?




  1. Stephen Brown is a solid favorite here in the Upstate. All of Chad Connelly’s endorsements are from chairmen and committeemen in small, rural, low country counties. If the executive committee makes the election with one vote per county; it would indeed be over. If the delegates to the convention make the selection (I believe they do!) then Stephen Brown probably arrives with a plurality of the votes locked up. I would actually be surprised if Upstate Congressman Trey Gowdy made an endorsement different from the strong views of Greenville and Spartanburg delegates who are his constituents.

    Bill Connor is indeed a fine man with a bright future in the party. He was poorly advised by Patrick Haddon to get in this race at the 11th hour. I had a conversation with Bill Connor today in the Statehouse and suggested he and Steven Brown should talk.

    My good friend Ben Kinlaw is also highly qualified and would bring the right skills to the job. Unfortunately, Ben has not caught on, at least not here in the Upstate.

    All four men, Kinlaw, Connor, Brown, and Connelly are outstanding Republicans, each is highly qualified, and all four are Reagan conservatives, or, in today’s parlance “Tea Party” folks. The party will be in good hands with any one of the four as Chairman. I do believe Stephen Brown, as the attorney of record on our lawsuit for registration by party, will be the best man to see that lawsuit through. North Carolina and Virginia have won similar suits on appeal and the facts and the law solidly favor the position of the SC GOP in this case. That’s why a lot of us conservatives are supporting Stephen Brown with no disrespect at all to the other three highly qualified men.


    • Dean, with respect to and for other candidates, the endorsements of such heavyweights as Duncan, Mulvaney and Loftis can’t be overlooked. I don’t doubt the qualifications of any of them (Haddon being the exception), but Connelly has secured the backing of some of the biggest names in the state. I’ve not seen the equivalent for any others. Thus my thought that, with three weeks to go, Connelly will win.


  2. Is it true that Haddon is actually supporting Connelly? It looks like the deal is that Haddon dropped out and Connelly will boost him for Lt. Gov. in 2014. Connor is just a foil.


  3. Yes, It does appear that The SCGOP Chair Race Over ~

    Especially when Stephen Brown WINS this BIG in Charleston!

    Big News Tonight – Stephen Wins Big in Charleston Straw Poll of Delegates!!!


    Chad Connelly 37

    Bill Connor 32

    STEPHEN BROWN 60 ! ! !

    That’s not a misprint! SIXTY VOTES in a county where Stephen has zero name recognition and few if any connections. All after hearing him speak once and comparing him with the others.


    • Stephen has connections to Charleston, I believe his family is from there, and he has connections from when he ran state wide for the Senate GOP Primary several years ago.


  4. Not so fast Chris, coming from a moderate county like Charleston. I find it really funny how everyone writes this race off here and there, Look yes Stephen may have won Charlston but whoopee do da. This is one county of many!

    Chad is primed to win this race just like the story says, I live in York County and yes Stephen has a little support here but Chad Connelly is the over all favorite to win this county as well as the counties surrounding us. Cherokee, Chester, Lancaster, Chesterfield and Union and these small counties will play!

    Why is Chad more qualified he has been here and done that he will be the only one who can energize the base the get out and work and will have the team available to do it, he has expereience in all aspects of what a state chairman has to do, he will be able to raise the money and keep everyone together tied into one goal and that is win! It’s funny that everyone here thinks others can do all these things!

    Look I liked Bill Connor when he ran for Lt. Governor but he claims he raised $500,000 when he ran for Lt. Gov this is not the case it was more like 300,000 and some loose change, whick a majority of that money was a loan from his own pocket. He cannot raise money statewide and we will have to do so to win, because HARPO will be back on the dems side and he will eat Bill’s lunch if he was chairman.

    Ben Kinlaw, great guy that just did not go anywhere with his campaign and is in one of the smaller countes so makes it tough. Love Stephen but I just do not believe you run for this seat without fully getting engaged until recently, running for public office and running for SCGOP are two different things.

    For many of the new people in the party and new delegates that have not been engaged with this should truly understand what is at hand here this up coming election in 2012 is like nothing we have ever seen before and we need a state party leader who will carry us on his shoulders past 2012, someone who will makes us proud for the conservative values we hold!

    Yes we can retain the house, win the Senate but if we do not have someone here that will take it to the Dems then it does not matter if we win the House or Senate because the President will use his veto pen and strike everything he does not like!

    Lastly, these endorsements do matter because one this is in a in house race not elected officials endorsing people for house, senate or even president. Many have seen the work that Chad has done and know he can accomplish it at the state level for us because they know how crucial 12 is not only nationally but locally and statewide so delegates beware this is the time to make the wise choice and go with someone that is proven!


  5. Second Hanson’s quote! Chad is very strong here and yes Greenville will play but so will York it is not tiny and we are very strong here in the surrounding areas!

    Let this race play out and see where it goes but I agree look into facts when u choose, because there are some distortions in this race that are easily verifiable.


  6. In this race, I’ve heard Chad speak 3 times, Bill speak (for this office) once and Stephen once. I believe that all are good and honorable men and that I could support them in a different race, but – I can tell you that Stephen is the only one that spoke to me about the issues that face the GOP and Conservativism.

    Chad spoke of traveling thru the state over the last many months and how many endorsements (read “establishment”) he has. Very good guy and nice “rah-rah” speech.

    Bill Connor (who I supported in his race against Ard) seems to be a great “outsider” and I know is a Patriot who loves his country. He spoke quite a bit about his Military service, but I’m afraid that for this race, just being a patriot and outsider isn’t enough.

    While Chad has been campaigning for the last half year (probably longer) and while Bill has been a recent additition to the race, Stephen has been engaged in meaningful action on behalf of the GOP. He’s volunteered his time to file a lawsuit to make folks register by party in order to vote in primaries. He mentioned that the 2012 Presidential Preference Pole will happen here in SC. What will it do to the results when you have the Liberals, Democrats, Socialists and Communists voting in the Republican Presidential Preference contest? Do you think that maybe they’ll be doing their best to get the most Liberal candidate the top vote getter? Stephen is actually doing something about that.

    He’s the only man who gave a plan of what he’d like to do if elected. He spoke about fixing and improving the party while the others talked about themselves.

    If you listen to all 3 candiates, there really isn’t a choice. I feel bad for all those folks who endoresed candidates BEFORE they even knew who was running or what they stood for.

    Speaking as a conservative (and not as the leader of a 912 group), I know that there are times that character alone is all you need for the job. In this case, we need character, intellegence, knowledge and experience. Stephen brings them all to the table.


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