Taxpayers would continue to at least partly fund South Carolina’s first-in-the-South presidential primaries in the future under a bill backed by both major parties. The bill, which lawmakers advanced Monday to the full House Judiciary Committee, clarifies that the State Election Commission is responsible for conducting the contests. It does that by deleting from state law a reference to the 2008 election cycle. Rep. Alan Clemmons, the subcommittee’s chairman, said the bill means future presidential primaries will be funded through the budget like any other election, offset by filing fees that candidates pay.
“The whole intent is to have it paid for by the state,” said Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, who’s co-sponsoring the measure with Clemmons.
State GOP Chairman Matt Moore and state Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison both testified in support of the bill, saying the state’s first-in-the-South status that attracts national attention benefits taxpayers by bringing in millions in spending by candidates, media and political pundits. Nearly $11 million was spent on political advertisements alone on South Carolina radio and TV stations during the 2012 GOP presidential primary, according to a spreadsheet Moore provided.