Whatever one may call Karen Floyd, nobody can call her "quitter".
Four years ago, when she lost her bid for State Education Superintendent by a mere 500 votes, few - including yours truly - would've imagined she'd be back anytime soon, much less winning the Chairmanship of the SCGOP unopposed a year later.
What's happened for South Carolina Republicans during her tenure as Chair would probably have been considered just as unlikely:
- A three seat gain in the State House (5 if you count 2 seats gained by a special election and a party switch a month prior to her taking office, both efforts in which she was heavily involved),
- The ouster of long-time GOP target John Spratt in the Fifth Congressional District,
- A clean sweep where every statewide GOP candidate won by no less than four percentage points (four years ago, Floyd lost by 500 votes and two other winners by margins of less than 4%).
How big a deal were these gains?
These State House seat pickups stand as the party's biggest gain since 1994, the first time since 1994 gained a Congressional seat and first time since 2002 that it increased its share of constitutional offices. This might explain why Waring Howe, a prominent Lowcountry Democrat, told Channel 2 News viewers that he was "disgusted" by South Carolina voters, who voted for "one party control" of state government.
While no one person deserves all the credit, Karen Floyd clearly made a major contribution. She put much of her time and soul into rallying Republicans and set the agenda for renewed efforts to build the state's Republican majority. Her support for new and innovative approaches to build the party base and waging campaigns ranged from personally rallying the party faithful around the state to embracing new technology, as well as her tireless work traveling the state to support candidates and raise money has paid off.
These efforts came at a considerable price to her as she took a lot of the last year from her business and away from her family, which is a lot to ask of anyone. One can only push the ball so hard and for so long, so it's understandable that she would need a break. She's certainly earned it.
I will candidly admit to being skeptical of Karen when she first began looking at the chairmanship. In the beginning, she asked me - and others - to give her a chance before passing judgment and pull together to help make great things happen.
Having said that, I'm big enough to retract my initial reservations and admit to my readers that Karen did what she said she would, and the South Carolina Republican Party is better for it.
Four years ago, Karen Floyd could have walked away, but she didn't. In doing so, she set a high standard that any successor will be hard pressed to meet. While she may be hanging it up after one term, she's not a quitter - and she's certainly not a loser.