Charleston chapter of RINO Hunt starting up
A new conservative group is taking aim at some of the Lowcountry’s more moderate Republicans, but it’s too soon to say how much influence it will have on the ballot box.
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The next meeting of Charleston’s RINO Hunt chapter will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Easterby’s Family Grill 2388 Ashley River Road in Charleston.
RINO Hunt — an Upstate group formed to oppose those it considers “Republicans in Name Only” — has a new Charleston chapter.
Founder Harry Kibler said the grass-roots group already has chapters in Greenville, Florence and Pickens counties and ultimately hopes to unify the conservative voices in the state.
“The next best way to address our concerns is to seek candidates to challenge the incumbents in state government that will actively advocate for smaller government, reduced spending and real reform,” he said.
Hugh Veal, who recently attended the first meeting of the Charleston chapter, said it first wants to encourage Republican office holders to vote conservatively. “Those who don’t want to vote a conservative platform, we want to look at getting somebody in there who will,” he said.
But Charleston County GOP Chairwoman Lin Bennett said she has not seen the new group flex much muscles to date.
“I don’t know what to think of those groups,” she said. “Everybody was into the tea party thing. I’m not seeing that with this thing.”
Kibler said the group is mainly focusing on seven state Senate seats this year, including supporting Fair Tax advocate John Steinberger in the Senate District 41 race — the Charleston seat formerly held by Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell. Kibler said it’s also backing Peter VonLehe Ruegner in his Republican primary contest against Rep. Chip Limehouse of Charleston.
Kibler acknowledged it can be difficult to pinpoint who is a RINO — “My wife and I don’t always agree on where to set the thermostat.” He also said the group is not working solo but looking to join forces with the tea party, 9/12 and other conservative groups, such as the Republican Liberty Caucus when it finds common cause with them.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.