Sen. Cory Gardner

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., addresses the South Carolina GOP's 50th annual Silver Elephant dinner in Columbia. Jamie Lovegrove/Staff

COLUMBIA — A jovial crowd of more than 700 South Carolina Republicans gathered Thursday evening for the state party's 50th annual Silver Elephant fundraiser.

Though Republicans have dominated state politics for years, the ascension of the national party to control the White House and majorities in Congress boosted the celebratory mood at this year's dinner.

"The strength of the party is represented right here in South Carolina due to our conservative beliefs," said South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, assuring the crowd that the GOP's dominance in the Palmetto State will continue for years to come.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner, the evening's headliner, waxed poetic about his conversion to conservatism at a young age and railed against what he argued is increasing extremism from his Democratic colleagues.

"Our rights come from God, not from Chuck Schumer," Gardner said, referring to the Senate minority leader from New York.

Lauding his South Carolina colleagues in Congress, none of whom were able to attend the event, Gardner could not help but make a few jokes at their expense.

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"I want to thank you all for giving us Lindsey Graham," Gardner said of the state's senior senator. "I love Lindsey because he makes me feel tall in the United States Senate and that's not a very frequent opportunity I have."

The night mixed patriotism with a heavy dose of party loyalty. Immediately after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, the crowd remained standing for the Republican creed. Gardner told the crowd his daughter used to pledge allegiance to the flag "and the Republicans for which it stands" before he corrected her.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel thanked state party officials in a recorded video for their work promoting the GOP.

"We at the RNC know how valuable your efforts are in making the Republican Party stronger and President Trump successful," McDaniel said.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina statehouse and congressional delegation. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.