COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Former U.S. Representative Bob Inglis and a Lowcountry businessman filed a lawsuit Tuesday in Richland County claiming the state's Republican Party violated party rules and state law by canceling the 2020 presidential primary.
Both the South Carolina Republican Party and South Carolina Democratic Party have canceled primaries in the past.
Last month, the SCGOP's Executive Committee voted to forgo a primary next year. They said the decision will save taxpayers about $1.2 million.
Inglis spoke with WIS on Wednesday and said he was disappointed when he learned of the decision.
“I felt like my voice had been taken away," he said. "My opportunity to express my hopes for the Republican party were taken away with it.”
Inglis and Frank Heindel filed the lawsuit with the help of Protect Democracy. According to its website, “Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan nonprofit with an urgent mission: to prevent our democracy from declining into a more authoritarian form of government.”
The lawsuit claims the state Republican Party violated Rule 11(b)(1) of their party rules: Unless decided otherwise by the state party convention within two (2) years prior to each presidential election year, the South Carolina Republican Party shall conduct a statewide presidential preference primary on a date selected by the chairman of the party and this date must be within two weeks after the New Hampshire Republican Primary.
The state convention was held in May. No decision was made then to cancel the primary.
"You can have whatever rules you want as a political party,” Inglis said, “but state law backs that up by saying, if you have rules, you have to follow them."
Dr. Todd Shaw at the University of South Carolina said presidential primaries in South Carolina play an important role in setting the presidential field.
"Primaries help mobilize the electorate, which then might relate to the general election," Dr. Shaw added.
We reached out to the South Carolina Republican Party. They said they do not comment on pending legal matters.
You can read the full lawsuit below.