The people of South Carolina in 2014 certified for the ballot possibly one of the most effective independent parties in the nation in 2014.
Since being certified, the American Party has fielded slates of candidates in two general elections and one special election. AP candidates have run for both federal and state offices and have garnered nearly 200,000 SC votes - about ten percent of the turnout for the 2016 election. At this year’s American Party state convention on May 12th, prospective candidates will seek the Party’s nominations for 2 statewide offices, 3 US Congressional offices, and 3 SC Legislative offices.
The American Party is unique in part because it was co-founded by a prominent Republican and a prominent Democrat.
Dr. Oscar Lovelace ran unsuccessfully as a gubernatorial candidate in the Republican primary in 2006 against incumbent Mark Sanford. He was named the National Family Physician of the Year in 2015 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
And Dr. Jim Rex (that would be me, the author) was elected in 2006 as the South Carolina State Superintendent of Education and ran unsuccessfully for Governor in the Democratic primary in 2010. As South Carolina has trended more conservative, I remain the most recent Democrat to be elected to a statewide constitutional office in South Carolina.
We met and began our friendship on the 2006 campaign trail. We became increasingly disillusioned with the two-party system and its inherent dysfunctionality. Along with other like-minded South Carolinians of all political persuasions, Lovelace and myself began a petition drive in 2013 to garner the required 10,000 registered voter signatures to qualify the new party to be placed on the SC ballot.
The response was overwhelming. Working primarily with volunteers at fairs, football tailgates, and other public venues they surprised South Carolina's political class by collecting more than 16,000 signatures in far less time than anticipated.
The new party does not focus on any ideological “litmus tests” for candidates. The American Party's "litmus test" is more focused on candidates maintaining high ethical and behavioral standards. Some unifying issues in the AP's platform are enforced term limits, centrist problem solving, transparency, civility and accountability.
The party's intent is to attract both candidates and voters who believe South Carolina needs elected officials who are motivated by public service, rather than beholden to party doctrine.
The AP is currently a South Carolina party, but it has plans to go nationwide. The American Party has purchased the domain names for americanpartyus.com, americanpartysc.com, and the same for the other 49 states. With their fifty state strategy in place, the AP is now prepared to encourage and assist others who have an interest in providing a new choice for independent voters on the ballot in their state as our nation prepares for a historic election in 2020.
As American party co-founder and chair, I found that the process for putting a new party on the ballot varies from state to state, and can be a highly technical process. I suggest that independents interested in putting the American Party on the ballot in their state contact me through the American Party website for technical guidance.
More battles of the Revolutionary War took place in South Carolina than in any other state. The state has long had a role in shaping U.S. presidential elections as the third presidential primary state. If the past two election cycles are any indication, the new American Party may continue South Carolina's historic role in fostering revolution and shaping American presidential politics.