A GOP lawyer who advised former President Donald Trump in his campaign to overturn the 2020 election results and the lawmaker leading Republicans' efforts to win back a Senate majority, are among speakers planned for a South Carolina gathering billed as a must-stop on the road to the state’s first-in-the-South primary.
Cleta Mitchell, a longtime Republican lawyer and conservative advocate, and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott of Florida — current chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — are scheduled to participate in next month's First in the South Republican Action Conference, the South Carolina Republican Party announced Wednesday.
Other confirmed speakers include Rick Perry and Reince Priebus, Trump's Energy secretary and chief of staff, respectively.
The forum, scheduled for late October in Myrtle Beach, will be a CPAC-style event intended both as a way for the party to make preparations for the 2022 midterm elections and to showcase South Carolina's GOP activist talent to national-level operatives ahead of the state's 2024 primary, according to state GOP Chairman Drew McKissick.
Mitchell, a onetime Oklahoma state legislator, has played a central role coordinating the Republican effort to tighten voting laws across the country, prompted by Trump's false claims of fraud in the 2020 election results.
Her most public involvement in the voting wars came in participation on a Jan. 2 call in which Trump asked Georgia election officials to “find” enough votes to declare him, and not Democrat Joe Biden, the winner of the battleground state.
Mitchell insisted she had evidence of voting fraud, but officials with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office said her data was incorrect. The call is part of an investigation by the Fulton County district attorney’s office into whether Trump or others improperly tried to influence election officials.
In addition to the speakers, next month’s South Carolina event will include panels and breakout sessions on topics such as election integrity and minority outreach, according to party officials.
South Carolina's Republican primary voters have successfully picked a GOP presidential nominee in all elections but one, for more than 40 years.
With that track record, McKissick said the conference, and another just a few months ahead of the first votes of the 2024 nominating cycle, will help solidify South Carolina's slot as the first Southern primary.
“My thought is that we’ll be doing that this year, and then again in October 2023, just prior to the primaries,” McKissick told The Associated Press this week. “That’ll make it a must stop for any potential candidates.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.
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