Judge throws out lawsuit against South Carolina GOP for canceling 2020 primary

A judge in South Carolina on Wednesday threw out a lawsuit against the state’s Republican Party for canceling its 2020 presidential primary.

Jocelyn Newman, a state court judge, ruled that the South Carolina Republican Party (SCGOP) acted within its rights when it chose to cancel the primary.

“The law does not give Plaintiffs a legal right to presidential preference primary, and the Court will not substitute its own judgment for that of the General Assembly or the SCGOP,” Newman wrote in her decision.


The lawsuit was filed in October by former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) and GOP voter Frank Heindel, who argued that the SCGOP had denied them their right to vote for their party’s presidential nominee.

“We had hoped for an opportunity for all South Carolina Republicans to vote in the First in the South primary in 2020, but that is not to be,” Inglis said in a statement.

The SCGOP’s executive committee voted 43-1 in September to cancel the primary and essentially endorse President Trump’s reelection. 

Drew McKissick, the state’s Republican Party chairman, said at the time that the move would also save taxpayers money.

“With no legitimate primary challenger and President Trump’s record of results, the decision was made to save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million and forgo an unnecessary primary,” McKissick said. “President Trump and his administration have delivered for South Carolinians, and we look forward to ensuring that Republican candidates up and down the ballot are elected in 2020.”


Cameron Kistler, a lawyer with Protect Democracy representing Inglis and Heindel, said that they are evaluating their options to “ensure that every South Carolina Republican has a voice this primary season.”

“We respectfully disagree with the judge’s decision that presidential preference primaries are different than official primaries,” Kistler said in a statement. “Party bosses shouldn’t be able to cancel elections and deny hundreds of thousands of voters their voice in selecting presidential candidates.”

Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.) and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) have launched long-shot GOP primary challenges to Trump. Former Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) dropped out of the Republican primary race in November.

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