SC GOP leader joins chairmen from early-voting states to keep 2024 primary schedule

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A bill passed by the the Nevada Legislature that would move the Western state to the front of the country’s presidential primary schedule was met this week with opposition from GOP chairmen from all four early-voting states, including South Carolina.

The four chairmen — Iowa’s Jeff Kaufmann, Nevada’s Michael J. McDonald, South Carolina’s Drew McKissick and New Hampshire’s Stephen Stepanek — said in a joint statement Tuesday the nominating contest that starts with Iowa and ends with the Palmetto State should stay as is.

“As the GOP leaders of the four-carve out states, we want to make clear that we stand together in protecting the presidential nominating schedule as it has existed for many years,” the chairmen said. “Our alliance is strong and we will continue to work together to preserve this historic process.”

The measure still requires the signature of Nevada’s Gov. Steve Sisolak and would subsequently need support from the national political parties for the change to occur by 2024.

The Associated Press reported the push to switch up which state gets the first move on the presidential primary nominating schedule was brewed behind closed doors by former U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. Politico reported in April that U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, also was among leaders discussing changing the 2024 contest.

That same report, however, said Clyburn would leave the decision up to Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison of South Carolina. Harrison, who has previously stated support moving South Carolina up the line, did not definitively say what should happen on an April call with reporters.

Meanwhile, South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson told The State on Tuesday it’s too early to comment or get involved until the DNC’s bylaws and rules committee meets and makes a decision later this year.

“The Democratic National Committee, as it does after every presidential election or cycle, evaluates or reviews the nominating process,” Robertson said. “The rules and bylaws committee, the slots on that committee will be filled in the fall and they will begin the process of looking at our nominating. But I think that South Carolina’s presidential primary, the manner in which the state carried it out and manner in which it was performed speaks for itself.”

Frustration with the handling of the Iowa caucus in 2020 motivated the talks. In particular, Democrats also have argued that Iowa and New Hampshire’s primary voters do not represent the core diverse electorate that, for example, wound up turning out and ultimately voting for the eventual 2020 presidential winner, Joe Biden, who won South Carolina’s first-in-the-South primary.

South Carolina’s Republican Party did not hold a presidential primary in February 2020, choosing to scrap it altogether.

“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent president in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary,” McKissick 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.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.