Until today, the Blogland has remained neutral in the race for the Chairmanship of the South Carolina Republican Party. Two reasons motivated this: first, to be a neutral and objective observer of the process, free to praise and/or criticize candidates; second, was because while all the candidates were nice people and committed to conservative ideas, they lacked the sufficient experience to lead the state party.
The decision of Bill Connor, an attorney and Army infantry officer, to enter the race after Patrick Haddon, the Chair of the Greenville County GOP, withdrew, has substantially changed the field. Connor comes to this race with a level of experience and ability that stands above the other candidates.
It is the recognition of the changed field, as well as his strong qualifications, that the Blogland has decided to endorse Bill Connor lead the South Carolina GOP.
Last year, Connor sought office for the first time, making it into a close GOP runoff for Lieutenant Governor in a crowded and highly-competitive field. From this, he has learned the complex mosaic that represents the state's Republican faithful. He's also learned the challenges of a statewide campaign operation in a hands-on way that no other candidate has. He is the candidate best qualified to lead the challenge of organizing and leading a statewide political effort.
It also says something that some have begun to criticize him. Apparently they feel he can quickly build support for this position - support he'll need to lead the party as it gears up for the 2012 election cycle.
The stakes going into next year's elections are high: redistricting gives the GOP an opportunity to make large gains, possibly establishing a veto-proof legislative majority in South Carolina, as it recently did in Alabama and Georgia. Such a move would do much to dampen Democratic political ambitions in future statewide races.
It can be expected that President Obama's billion-dollar campaign will fight to turn out their core voters across the state. There is no surer sign that South Carolina Democrats are taking 2012 seriously than the return of Dick Harpootlian, the master Democratic strategist who led the state Democrats in the 1998 election cycle - the only cycle since the 1970s where Democrats gained ground from Republicans. If Republicans want to remain on offense and seize the opportunities that next year will present, they need to think very carefully about who will lead their team.
As an infantry officer, Bill Connor has shown leadership ability outside of the political arena. As a statewide candidate, he's demonstrated he isn't afraid of a tough fight and knows what it takes to lead a statewide political operation. Of the candidates for the role of SCGOP Chair, he is the best qualified to lead them for the next two years.