Twenty-eight Republicans from the Lowcountry’s 1st Congressional District are vying to become one of three delegates to the party’s national convention in Cleveland this summer.
The extra-large field reflects the added importance South Carolina’s delegates may play at the national convention, particularly if no presidential hopeful has the 1,237 votes needed to win on the first ballot.
The total of 28 candidates is up sharply from the 16 who sought the positions four years ago, 1st District GOP Chair Jim Davis said.
“It’s this cycle,” he said. “It’s the hype, the media frenzy.”
On Saturday, 1st District Republicans will convene at 10 a.m. Saturday in Orange Grove Elementary Charter School to elect three delegates and three alternates.
Davis said he expects all 122 voting delegates to participate.
No new candidates may be added to the ballot beyond those who had filed by Monday’s deadline, he said, but delegates may remove their names from the ballot prior to Saturday’s voting.
Later Monday, two of the original 30 candidates — Ray Nash and Maraide Sullivan — withdrew their names.
All South Carolina delegates will be bound to vote for Donald Trump on the first ballot in Cleveland, but they may switch to Sen. Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich or other candidates after that. The respective campaigns already have begun to woo and line up potential delegates.
Each of the state’s seven congressional districts will elect three national delegates this month, and the 3rd and 7th Congressional Districts began Saturday in Greenwood and Florence, respectively. Supporters of Cruz won most of the six seats, while a Trump supporter won one, according to media reports. At least one winner Saturday said they were uncommitted beyond the first ballot.
The state’s three senior GOP party leaders serve automatically, and the final 26 national delegates will be chosen at the state convention in Columbia next month. Those who don’t win on the congressional-level voting may try again on May 7 at the state convention.
The 1st District candidates include state Rep. Chip Limehouse, Christian Costa, Cris Steele, Cyndi Campsen Mosteller, Eddie Taylor, Gail O’Kane, Gene D’Agostino, Gordon Cashwell, Joe Semsar, John Dwyer, John Steinberger, Jonathan Hoffman, Kathleen Shea, K.C. Lombard, Larry Hargett, Lin Bennett, Lisa Pereira, Mark Hartley, Mary Amonitti, Mary Anne Cannady, Matt Berden, Duffy Lewis, Roy Jessup, former Sen. Mike Rose, Stefan Castellucci, Steve Rapchick, Terry Hardesty and Zach Lamb.
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, a Republican who represents the district in Congress, will be the featured speaker, and state lawmakers also will offer updates on their work.
Davis said there will be a single vote to elect three delegates and three alternates— and the candidates will draw straws in the event of a tie.
“There’s no mystery. There are no games,” he said. “Folks aren’t sitting in the back room trying to conjure up who is going to win this thing.”
Reach Robert Behre at 843-937-5771 or at twitter.com/RobertFBehre.