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McKissick defeats pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood in South Carolina GOP race

South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick won reelection to his post Saturday, batting down a challenge from pro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood that drew national attention.

McKissick easily won with roughly 68 percent of the votes from 861 delegates who cast ballots, while Wood took just under 28 percent of the vote. The remaining 4.3 percent of the vote was split between Michael LaPierre and Mark Powell. 

Wood, a vocal backer of former President TrumpDonald TrumpWhite House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters believe Trump will 'likely' be reinstated this year Black Secret Service agent told Trump it was offensive to hold rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth: report MORE's baseless election claims, put up strong showings in Greenville and Horry counties but failed to get big enough numbers elsewhere, falling far behind McKissick, who had locked up establishment support in the race.

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The party contest, a typically quiet affair, became a headache for Republicans after Wood moved from Georgia to South Carolina this year and entered the race to unseat McKissick.

Wood cut his teeth as a defense lawyer in several high-profile cases but burst onto the political scene in 2020 over his repeated and unfounded claims that the November presidential election was rigged against Trump.

He spent much of his campaign for party chairman railing against the establishment, heckling McKissick and discussing far-flung topics such as child trafficking that have little connection with the job for which he was running.

Besides being buoyed by establishment support in South Carolina, McKissick also drew three endorsements from Trump himself, helping downplay Wood’s argument that he was the former president’s chosen candidate, and had helped deliver a spree of victories for the party in 2020.

"The results of the last cycle spoke for themselves," McKissick told The Hill in an interview after his victory. "Between the record and then of course having the support for President Trump, you add all that together and you get a huge victory in a four-way race."

McKissick began leading the South Carolina Republican Party in 2017 and won his second term in 2019. 

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Wood had preemptively sought to cast doubt on the integrity of the election, writing on his Telegram page before the vote was held that “if [McKissick] ‘wins’ today, he will be a Fake Chairman just like Biden is a Fake President!”

But McKissick said his overwhelming victory underscores his backing among grassroots voters and the lack of support they have for a candidate such as Wood.

"When someone wins 68 percent of the vote in a four-way race, I think it puts an exclamation point on how the grassroots feel about that kind of a candidate," he said. "I think you saw the grassroots speak to that."

With the race for state GOP chair in the rearview mirror, McKissick said the state party will pivot toward planning for the 2024 GOP presidential primary and fighting against Democrats' agenda.

"Our party is going to be united now," he said. "We're coming back together, putting together a campaign operation for the coming cycle. Now that this is over, we've got an opportunity to spend time focusing on Democrats and what we need to do to be successful in the next cycle."

Updated at 1:38 p.m.