The South Carolina Republican Party has come up with an ingenious plan to save taxpayer money.
It’s simply going to skip that part where everyone votes.
On Saturday, the state GOP Executive Committee decided to cancel its regularly scheduled 2020 winter primary and just agree to renominate President Donald Trump at next year’s national convention.
It’s easier that way, and much cheaper.
Party Chairman Drew McKissick says the committee was only thinking of the people and its fiduciary responsibility ... and certainly not avoiding a contested primary to protect anyone’s fragile ego. No, no, no.
And this has nothing to do with reports that the Trump campaign is trying to shut down primaries across the country to avoid competition or any criticism of the president ... and the inevitable tweetstorms that would ensue.
Pshaw, there’s simply no reason to blow $1.2 million on a presidential primary, McKissick says, because there are no legitimate challengers to Trump.
Other than the former governor of Massachusetts, a former Illinois congressman/syndicated talk show host and Mark Sanford, our own former governor and congressman.
But other than that, nope, no legitimate candidates.
McKissick says this decision was driven by the fact that everyone loves Trump — just ask him! — and all those polls that show the president would win the nomination in South Carolina by a landslide.
He’s right. There is little doubt the president would win here, and handily.
Still, some Republicans have cried foul because, well, voting is a constitutional right, this doesn’t look good and it could draw unflattering comparisons to banana republics that cancel elections to stamp out opposition.
Yeah, those old canards. Which is perhaps why polls show nearly two-thirds of South Carolina Republicans want their primary, no matter what.
In defense of the GOP, this is not entirely unprecedented. Political parties sometimes skip presidential primaries — South Carolina Democrats didn’t bother to vote in 1996 or 2012, and state Republicans took a pass in 2004.
But those were all contests when no challengers qualified here to take on incumbent presidents. The Dems did hold a contested primary in 1980, when President Jimmy Carter had a legitimate opponent, and the Republicans allowed Pat Buchanan — and even David Duke — to challenge President George H.W. Bush in 1992.
But party elders argue this time the primary outcome is a foregone conclusion. So why force everyone out to the polls and spend all that money? After all, is it really silencing the opposition if they’re just going to lose anyway?
Some people apparently think so. Sanford says it looks like the GOP is taking its cues from North Korea. Which, incidentally, just loves Trump.
“What we can’t say as conservative Republicans is that we don’t believe in big media, in terms of directing election outcomes, but tell you what: A handful of us in a room are going to decide the election outcome for more than 3 million folks living in South Carolina,” Sanford said on CNN, which no Republicans — except Trump — even watch. “I think that’s a mistake.”
Maybe McKissick is on to something here. Why should we go to the trouble of holding an election when the polling is so clear?
In 2016, taxpayers spent $2.4 billion to stage the presidential election. That’s a lot of money. We could avoid that cost, and any chance of voter fraud, if we simply accept the polling.
And every poll released in the past year says former Vice President Joe Biden will absolutely wipe the floor with Trump in 2020.
In fact, every poll released so far shows the presumptive Democratic nominee — and even Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren — would trounce Trump by a much larger margin than Hillary Clinton won the popular vote in 2016.
So sorry, Mr. President, surveys say you’re fired.
Surely McKissick and the Republican executive committee wouldn’t argue against their own logic from just this past weekend.
That would be as hypocritical as a twice-divorced, confessed adulterer criticizing a man for having an affair.
Reach Brian Hicks at firstname.lastname@example.org.