Lin Wood’s plan to take over SC GOP fails, Drew McKissick wins another term

Meg Kinnard/AP

Lin Wood’s attempt to sway enough delegates to make him the next South Carolina Republican Party chairman over incumbent Drew McKissick largely failed Saturday, though the Atlanta pro-Trump attorney swept two of the state’s more conservative strongholds.

The vote was hardly surprising in a traditionally red state that, under McKissick, recorded one of its most successful election years since the Republican Party took control of both of the state Legislature’s chambers years ago.

Out of 861 delegates, McKissick won a third term with 582 delegates to Wood’s 239.

The South Carolina GOP held a hybrid convention Saturday because of COVID-19, a committee decision because the party was unable to cram what can typically be thousands of people inside a convention center. Because of that change, candidates did not give speeches and, instead, submitted them by email.

By holding a hybrid convention, Wood and his backers accused the party and McKissick of flouting their own rules. This week, a judge rejected a lawsuit filed by three of Wood’s Upstate backers to hold the convention in person.

McKissick entered the race the incumbent, hard enough to beat in a state where statewide incumbents rarely fall.

He had the support of Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, a Richland County delegate, and close ally of former President Donald Trump.

In the past year alone, he led a party that flipped a Lowcountry seat in Congress back to red and overcame an unprecedented and historic campaign to beat Democrat Jaime Harrison and keep Graham in Washington. In the State House, Republicans flipped five seats, shoring up the party’s control.

Trump also endorsed McKissick’s campaign a total of three times, as recently as Friday, hours before the convention.

Wood’s rise in the state GOP to become party chairman was always going to be an uphill battle for him.

Though he won more delegates in conservative Horry and Greenville counties, he only became a registered South Carolina voter in February, and, soon after, was recruited to take on McKissick, who took over the Republican Party in 2017.

Wood’s unorthodox campaign to beat McKissick also was not — and, arguably would have never been — enough to convince most delegates, many of whom have been loyal to the party for years, to vote for him and against McKissick.

Embracing Trump, Wood also made vague, unsubstantiated references to “nefarious activities” involving McKissick and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham at his convention stops and, without offering any evidence, accused the two of striking a non-disclosure agreement. McKissick has repeatedly denied one exists.

Wood spoke often about child sex trafficking, which he says is the country’s No. 1 pandemic, a sentiment popular among adherents of the QAnon conspiracy theory.

Wood, in his candidate speech emailed to delegates, told the delegates the party “must get rid of corrupt politicians, defend the middle class, put God back in government, and return the power to We The People.”

He accused Republicans, such as McKissick of abusing money and power.

Wood did not attend Saturday’s convention.

Instead, he posted to the Telegram app that he was hosting a supporter party at his home in Beaufort County.

This story will be updated.