As an early state holding the first primaries in the South, South Carolina will play a significant role in selecting both parties' nominees.  For Democrats the Palmetto State is noteworthy as a state with a large African American population.  For Republicans it is "the firewall."  According to a South Carolina Republican Party press release, "Since the inception of the South Carolina Primary in 1980, no candidate has ever lost the South Carolina Primary and gone on to become the Republican Party's nominee for President."

Republicans: Sat., Jan. 19, 2008
Paperwork and $35,000 fee by Nov. 1.  11 candidates certified

Democrats: Sat., Jan. 26, 2008
Filing period Monday, Oct. 22 at 9 a.m. to noon Thursday, Nov. 1..."meet eligibility requirements and pay a filing fee of $2,500 or have 3,000 registered South Carolina voters' signatures on a petition." >
Becoming a Delegate

Feb. 3, 2004 Democratic Primary
Feb. 19, 2000 Republican Primary

April 26, 2007 - South Carolina Democratic Party/NBC News Debate at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg
May 15, 2007 - South Carolina Republican Party/FOX News Debate at the University of South Carolina in Columbia
July 23, 2007 - DNC sanctioned debate sponsored by YouTube/Google and CNN in Charleston.
Jan. 10, 2008 - South Carolina Republican Party Presidential Candidates Debate at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center in Myrtle Beach. >
Jan. 21, 2008 - CBC Institute/CNN debate at the Palace Theater in Myrtle Beach, SC. >, >
South Carolina Democratic Party
South Carolina Republican Party

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South Carolina has a population of 4.3 million.  Its 46 counties stretch from the Coastal Plain to the Piedmont Plateau (Pee Dee) to the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Phil Noble, president of the South Carolina DLC and founder and CEO of Phil Noble & Associates and Politics Online, describes his fellow Palmetto Staters thusly, "I think...we're a little crazy and cantankerous, and we're always sort of different in throwing a monkey wrench in the machinery, but fundamentally I think we're a pretty good reflection of America."  Just under 30 percent of South Carolina's population consider themselves Black or African American according to the 2000 Census.   There is also a significant veterans population; according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs more than 413,000 veterans make South Carolina home.1

South Carolina saw a lot of visits from 2008 prospects of both parties.  On the Republican side Sen. John McCain and former Gov. Mitt Romney did the most early organizing.  McCain in particular lined up many early endorsements in the state which had effectively ended his campaign in 2000.  The state's Republican U.S. Senators split; Lindsey Graham backed McCain, while Jim DeMint supported Romney.  Former Sen. Fred Thompson, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, and Rep. Ron Paul also waged significant campaigns.  On the Democratic side the African American population provided a base of support for Sen. Barack Obama .  Former Sen. John Edwards, who was born in Seneca, SC and lives in neighboring North Carolina, won the 2004 primary here and hoped to do well again.

South Carolina has traditionally held the first in the South presidential primary.  After considerable deliberation, the Democratic National Committee voted in 2006 to add South Carolina as a new pre-window primary (in the period between the New Hampshire primary and the opening of the window on February 5, 2008), thus affirming its early status [photo].2  Democrats envisaged holding their primary on Tuesday, January 29, while Republicans were looking at Saturday, February 2.  However, on May 21, 2007 Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) signed a bill to move the date of his state's presidential primary to from the second Tuesday in March to the last Tuesday in January. (>).  South Carolina party leaders indicated they would do what it takes to hold their first in the South position. [press releases] On August 9, 2007 state Republicans announced Saturday, January 19 as the date for their primary.  On October 16, 2007 state Democrats announced they would seek a waiver from the DNC to hold their primary three days earlier than planned, on Saturday, January 26.

Unlike in many states South Carolina's presidential primaries have in past been party-run affairs3; this has posed a substantial financial and logistical challenge for the parties.  However, in mid-2007 the General Assembly passed, over Gov. Mark Sanford (R)'s objections, a bill which requires that for parties wishing to hold presidential primary elections, the "State Election Commission must conduct the presidential preference primary."  The General Assembly passed S99 on June 5, 2007, Gov. Sanford vetoed the bill on June 14, and the General Assembly voted to override the veto on June 19.  [reaction The law left determination of the primary dates to the state party committees, and they have opted to hold their primaries on different dates while keeping to the Saturday tradition.4

1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Dec. 2005 State Summary.

2. For the South Carolina Democratic Party's case for holding an early primary see its April 2006 proposal to the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee.

3. South Carolina Code of Laws Section 7-11-20 states: "A certified political party wishing to hold a presidential primary election may do so in accordance with the provisions of this title and party rules.  However, notwithstanding any other provision of this title, the state committee of the party shall set the date and the hours that the polls will be open for the presidential primary election and the filing requirements.  If a party holds a presidential primary election on a Saturday, an absentee ballot must be provided to a person who signs an affirmation stating that for religious reasons he does not wish to take part in the electoral process on a Saturday."

4.  Kara Borie, spokesperson for the South Carolina Republican Party, wrote in an e-mail, "Traditionally we have held voting on a Saturday to reduce costs (utilizing our volunteers) and increase voter turnout."
South Carolina Democratic Party
1529 Hampton St., Suite 200  Columbia, SC 
Executive Director 
Field Organizer
Finance Director
Operations Manager
Communications & Research
Carol Fowler
Josh Werner
Lance Jones
Ashley Medbery
Shameka Grayson
Patrick Norton

Appointment of Werner announced May 25, 2007; "graduate of Pennsylvania State University, briefly served as Political Director for the Hillary Clinton for President Exploratory Committee.  He has worked on campaigns in South Carolina for the last 4 years, including serving as campaign manager for Frank Willis's gubernatorial campaign and Mayor Bob Coble's successful re-election campaign."


South Carolina Republican Party
1913 Marion Street, Columbia, SC 
Executive Director
Senior Finance Director
Political Director
Communications Director
Deputy Political Director
Executive Assistant
Executive Assistant
Presidential Primary Taskforce
Katon Dawson
Hogan Gidley
Sunny Philips
David Hill
Rob Godfrey
Becca Veazey
Bea Beamer
Jen Davidson
Wes Mishoe

Interest Groups
Every Child Matters Education Fund

South Carolina Citizens for Life
South Carolina Business and Industry Political Education Committee
South Carolina State Conference NAACP
South Carolina Progressive Network
Copyright © 2007, 2008  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action