Two known statewide political figures – one from each of the two major parties in South Carolina – are joining forces to create the American Party in an effort to change government as it’s been known.
Jim Rex, former Superintendent of Education who ran on the Democratic ticket, and Oscar Lovelace, a former gubernatorial candidate who ran on the Republican ticket, are co-founders of the American Party. The two are on a statewide tour to rustle support for the newly certified party that touts itself on stances that include requiring term limits, transparent financial campaign limits, and “a non-partisan problem-solving agenda that focuses on economic growth, fiscal responsibility, and increased global competitiveness,” according to its website.
Rex, who lived in Horry County for several years as the first dean of education and vice chancellor at Coastal Carolina University, said the party has until the end of March to find the right candidates for the 2014 midterm election.
“A lot of members of the established parties have been waiting to see if this thing gets certified,” Rex said. “Now that it’s official that we’re going to be on the ballot, it’s going to be interesting to see a lot of the reactions of their party loyalists.”
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“Now that we got the party certified, we’re into the real work of getting the volunteers, raising the money, and finding the candidates,” Lovelace said.
The party is based on four principles: legislate and govern from the middle, increase the economic global competitiveness of the state and country, stop growth of political class and career politicians, and hold political parties accountable for their candidates and officeholders.
Rex said the American Party should bode well with residents in Horry County for two reasons. The first, he said, is because lifelong residents are fed up with the status quo of the Democratic and Republican parties. The other reason is because those who migrated to Horry County often come with an open mind to new places and ideas and start their lives here with a clean slate.
“That clean slate will work well for what we’re proposing,” Rex said. “A lot of them are at a stage in life where they want to do something that matters. That’s part of the open mind.”
Rex said given Horry County’s older population, many have lived through, what he calls, “the American Century,” where America dominated militarily, economically and technologically. He said the start of this century is a bit different.
“This century is not shaping up that way for their children or their grandchildren and a lot of them are concerned about that,” Rex said. “So when they give money to us, it’s not to protect the status quo, obviously, and it’s not to get something back, like the corporate donors or the special interest groups. It’s to help the country and help the state make things better.”
The American Party plans to grow nationwide with its grassroots efforts beginning in South Carolina.
Lovelace said although it was formed by he and Rex, their push by obtaining 16,000 signatures statewide to get the party certified and their current sweep of the state’s 46 counties will make it a grassroots campaign.
“This is very much a grassroots effort because we know the only way we’re going to build a viable party is from the ground up,” Lovelace said.