It is imperative that the South Carolina General Assembly act now to avoid fallout from the coronavirus. Our state primary is June 9. It needs to be postponed.
We now have not only quarantined small businesses, restaurants, parades, sporting events, and small gatherings over 10 people. We have also quarantined the electorate from candidates. Gov. Henry McMaster recently announced postponements of March and April elections. It is also time to postpone our state primary.
I have sent a letter to the South Carolina State Elections Commission, but I have been told that they have no authority to delay the primary. My letter has also been sent to McMaster and Republican Party chair Drew McKissick. In it, I ask for a modest delay of four weeks. Our leaders in Washington have been talking about bailouts to the airlines, the hotel industry, even energy producers, casinos, and foreign-flag ships, but what we should be considering is a bailout for our elections.
While Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jim Clyburn appear to have an open invitation to speak to voters on television, many candidates have been doing diligent, but necessary legwork. A good ground game where you talk to individuals is crucial to success. Social media does help with connecting to voters, but face-to-face interaction is invaluable. Yes, there is advertising in the newspaper, on television, and also direct mail. But what America was built on is this: A candidate stands before voters and listens and responds. Right now, that is gone. Vanished in a few days. As recently as last week I was talking to folks in front of the library. The libraries were just closed yesterday. Today, we are in lockdown.
It’s hard to justify even going door to door. People, especially older people, shouldn’t just open up their homes to strangers during this crisis. I know I wouldn’t advise my 80-year-old mother to do so.
The S.C. General Assembly, along with Gov. McMaster, needs to postpone the June 9 election. Candidates and their teams need to be allowed to find their feet again when the restrictions are lifted. We need the ability to meet voters, to connect as humans do best.
There is an old story of Benjamin Franklin walking out of Independence Hall after the Constitutional Convention in 1787, when someone shouted out to him, “What have we got? A republic or a monarchy?” Franklin supposedly replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”
Right now there is no candidate standing before the voter, there is no response. And they cannot hear us.
Joe Reynolds is a chief engineer in the U.S. Merchant Marine and North Charleston resident. He is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.