GOP Chairman Karen Floyd Retires: She Came, She Saw, She Conquered by Gregory Hilton

Karen Floyd announced today she would not seek a second term as Chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. While she disappointed her fans, Floyd, 48, is clearly leaving at the top.
There were not many people at the end of 2008 who were interested in rebuilding the state Republican Party, but the GOP is fortunate Floyd was one of them. She is an attorney and previously served as Chairman of the Spartanburg County Council. In 2006 she ran for Superintendent of Education, but lost the closest statewide election in history by 455 votes. Her defeat later proved to be an enormous gain for the GOP.
During her tenure as Chairman, for the first time the GOP swept all nine statewide Constitutional offices. They picked up a Congressional seat which had never elected a Republican before. In the process they defeated the powerful Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Congressman John Spratt (D), who has been on Capitol Hill for 28 years.
Spratt had always portrayed himself as a budget expert, but was unable to answer Floyd’s simple question – “Why can’t you produce a budget?” She was referring to the fact that 2010 was the first year since the Budget Act was passed in 1974 that the House of Representatives was unable to pass a budget or an Appropriations Bill.
The party also elected the first black Republican to Congress since Reconstruction, Rep.-elect Tim Scott. Now Republicans represent five of the state’s six district. The GOP fielded candidates in 253 races, and won 211 of them. She also paid off the party debt as well as the mortgage on its headquarters. She will leave her successor with a healthy surplus.
This is the New South
Floyd has run a Republican Party that is part of the New South. She enthusiastically backed both the Lexington and Greenville County GOP when they passed resolutions to expel State Senator Jake Knotts from the Republican Party. The resolutions censured Knotts, revoked his party membership and asked him to resign.
Knotts referred to now Governor-elect Nikki Haley as a “raghead.” Knotts was supporting Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer who came in fourth in the primary, and Haley is also from Lexington County. Her parents are from Punjab in India and she was raised Sikh, but converted to Methodism. Knotts said “We already got one raghead in the White House, we don’t need another raghead in the Governor’s Mansion.”
Floyd said “We cannot sit idly by and watch our Party be torn apart by Senator Knotts’ bigotry. This is the harshest penalty the Party can impose, and it is more than justified in this situation. I call on all Republicans who are backing Knotts to withdraw their endorsements.” Knotts says his remarks on the “Pub Politics” program were taken out of context:

My ‘raghead’ comments about Obama and Haley were intended in jest. Bear in mind that this was a freewheeling, anything-goes radio program that is broadcast from a pub. It is similar to a political version of Saturday Night Live, which is actually where the joke came from. Since my intended humorous context was lost in translation, I apologize. I still believe Ms. Haley is pretending to be someone she is not, much as Obama did, but I apologize to both for an unintended slur.

First in the South
The state has held the South’s first presidential primary since 1980. Since then no Republican has ever won the GOP nomination without first winning in the Palmetto State. Four states, South Carolina, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, have already been given permission by the Republican National Committee to hold their primaries ahead of all other states during the 2012 primary season. This means South Carolina will continue to hold its “First in the South” status. The previous winners of the state’s presidential primary are:

  • 2008- John McCain (33 percent)
  • 2004- Uncontested (George W. Bush incumbent)
  • 2000- George W. Bush (53 percent)
  • 1996- Bob Dole (45 percent)
  • 1992- George H.W. Bush (67 percent)
  • 1988- George H.W. Bush (49 percent)
  • 1984- Uncontested (Ronald Reagan incumbent)
  • 1980- Ronald Reagan (55 percent)
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