COLUMBIA, SC — South Carolina voters who are frustrated over continued political gridlock between the nation’s two political parties may soon have a third option they can support.
The American Party aims to provide candidate translucency in campaign funding and spending, term limits for candidates and ethical decision making that provides solutions for common interests among the American public.
Former Democratic South Carolina Superintendent of Education Jim Rex and Oscar Lovelace, a family physician who once vied for the Republican nomination for governor, are in the process of developing the American Party for South Carolina and hope to eventually expand the party to the national level.
“The American Party is a positive disrupter,” Rex said. “Americans sense that there is something wrong. Third party options have been too far to the left or the right. There hasn’t been a viable option for those in the middle, and that’s what we want to provide.”
Rex and Lovelace have been campaigning for supporters for the American Party.
Using volunteers and their own time to collect the required 10,000 signatures of registered voters, they are continuing their efforts at an American Party booth at the South Carolina State Fair, which started last week. The men collected nearly 400 signatures the first day of the fair.
“The number of voters who identify themselves as independent is growing,” Lovelace said. “We want to give that independent voter a third option and that their choice is no longer between the lesser of two evils. What makes America great is diversity, and that is what this party embraces.”
Lovelace was appointed by former governor, now U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford to co-chair the governor’s Health Care Task Force in 2003. The task force created a 16-page document that, among other recommendations, called for a sales tax increase on tobacco products in South Carolina. Lovelace said that the recommendation was ignored by Sanford because he believes that Sanford, like many politicians, was listening to tobacco lobbyists rather than the people of South Carolina.
However, the American Party is rowing against a strong current, according to Mark Tompkins, a professor of political science at the University of South Carolina.
Tompkins believes that starting a political party that would be able to supplant either the Democratic or Republican parties faces strong barriers. The American Party would have to make itself visible to the voting public, be financially stable and be able to break the habits of today’s voting majority.
“It’s complicated in this case because people like you and me will have to question what these candidates are going to be doing with this party that they couldn’t achieve in their own parties,” Tompkins said. “It will be a real challenge for the party because the Democratic and Republican parties already have a well-established base in South Carolina.”
Where To Find Them
The American Party booth will be set up along with other political parties in the Hampton Building of the South Carolina State Fairgrounds, through Oct. 20.
Reach Cahill at (803) 771-8610.