Trump has already endorsed McKissick, who went so far as to cancel the 2020 presidential primary in the state when the president ran for re-election. But according to Wood’s account, he was the one who wore Trump’s real mantle in fighting to overturn the election results in Georgia, while McKissick did too little to add his voice to the “Stop the Steal” movement.
A follower of the QAnon conspiracy theory, Wood argues that Trump won the election in a landslide and is still president. Speaking without notes in a style that combines the skills of an accomplished preacher and trial lawyer, Wood – who first rose to prominence as a lawyer for JonBenét Ramsey’s family and also by Richard Jewell, who was falsely accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing – built a candidacy around his support for Trump, which Wood said he supported in 2016 because he believed chaos was good for the country.
“We need a bit of chaos in the South Carolina Republican Party. Someone’s got to shake it up, ”Wood said Tuesday in the town of Aiken to applause and laughter. “So here I am, Mr. Shaker.
A day earlier, Wood heckled McKissick during a speech at a Hampton County GOP event and suggested the incumbent not bother stopping pedophiles. The two then had a face-to-face showdown where McKissick punched Wood for raising vague “Chinese pornography” allegations. Supporters for the president inevitably describe Wood as deranged, pointing out that the Georgia Bar is investigating his conduct and wants Wood to undergo a psychiatric assessment.
Acrimony spilled over especially into Greenville County, the state’s largest Republican stronghold, earlier this month. Carrying “Stop the Steal” signs, pro-Wood activists accused incumbent County GOP Chairman Nate Leupp of rigging the party’s local election as they pitted the local party office and instead of work of Leupp, a Christian music store called Majesty Music.
“There’s a lot of madness going on in South Carolina,” Leupp said, dismissing activists backing Wood as “pitchfork and torchbearers.”
“All politicians are buzzing with the same question: What’s going on in the world in South Carolina? You just can’t make this stuff up, ”he says. “Great personalities are using a national Trump narrative to their own advantage.”
The Greenville County GOP produced a mixed result when it held its county convention on April 13. The county party picked a slate of new leaders, but failed to elect two of the men most responsible for recruiting Wood to run for the state party president, Jeff Davis and Pressley Stutts.
Borrowing a clamor from Trump, Stutts disputed the result, telling the Greenville News he was “not buying” the election results which were electronically compiled into the virtual convention.
Due to the organizing efforts of Stutts and Davis, however, an overwhelming number of the 79 delegates that the Greenville GOP chose to send to the May 15 state convention support Wood.
A total of 870 delegates will vote at the state convention for a new president. McKissick’s supporters believe he is way ahead of Wood’s delegate tally, largely due to the president’s long-standing relationship with the party, Wood’s late departure, and his lack of deep ties to Carolina from South. McKissick also presided over some big hits for the polling party in 2020.
For the sake of the spread of Covid and the inability to find a suitable location in the state capital of Columbia, the state The GOP decided on Wednesday that it will not hold a single large in-person state convention to choose the next president. Instead, county parties will meet in person, vote on local ballots or at regional meetings, and report the results to the state meeting, where the final results will be presented publicly.
Already, Wood’s supporters are questioning the integrity of the electoral process. Davis accuses the party establishment of “cheating” by rigging the delegate process, a claim disputed by party officials. He said some county party officials refused to follow party rules regarding the names and qualifications of delegates.
“People come around here and think South Carolina is a bastion of conservatism. No. We are a stronghold of the RINO elite that must be eliminated, ”said Davis. “They are afraid because it will obviously have an effect on the elections of 2024. In 2016, the establishment … did its best to stop Donald Trump. I don’t think the establishment wants another Donald Trump. South Carolina is the first in the south. We have a lot of influence on who the candidate will be. “
Davis predicted trouble for former South Carolina GOP Governor Nikki Haley, who is considering a presidential run in 2024 but has won hostility from grassroots conservatives unhappy with her after criticizing Trump.
Former state party chairman Chad Connelly, a McKissick supporter, agreed with Davis’ comments about South Carolina’s place in the GOP firmament, but said the election of Wood for the presidency would pose unnecessary problems for a party that wants to reclaim the White House and keep the Red State.
Connelly referred to Wood and those who recruited him “suicide bombers, ne’er-do-wells and malcontents.”
“They are not Republicans. They are not conservatives. They are anarchists, ”Connelly said, also calling Wood an outsider. “I have clothes in the dry cleaner longer than Lin Wood has lived in South Carolina.”
I can’t do enough to question the November election results.
But former South Carolina Republican Gov. Mark Sanford said Republicans blame the root of the problem: Trump, his spread of conspiracy theories, and his destabilizing influence on the GOP as a whole.
Sanford marveled at how Wood could gain ground against McKissick, who recently oversaw an election where Republicans reversed a seat in Congress, sheriff races, and seats in the State House and Senate. Sanford, who issued a brief main challenge for 2020 against Trump, pointed out that McKissick canceled the 2020 GOP primary in the state, denying the former state governor the opportunity to have a forum to discuss traditional conservative issues such as national debt and deficits.
“His candidacy is another manifestation of the Trump phenomenon. It’s in varying degrees of crazy, a cult of personality, ”said Sanford.
“What this really means is that the party is struggling with its own Trump demons. It’s one version of Trump against another, a more rabid version of Trump, but it’s all crazy, ”Sanford said. “The fact that Wood can run and there is an appetite for an out-of-state newcomer who has not been a part of GOP politics in South Carolina is unusual, but it fits the bill. era of Trump.