Republican voters aim to skew

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GREENVILLE, S.C. – At least two Republican groups in South Carolina are organizing efforts to skew South Carolina’s Democratic presidential primary to make a point and to help reelect President Donald Trump.

They are urging loyal Republicans to vote in the Democratic primary Feb. 29 for candidates perceived to be weak in opposition to Trump – for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont in one case and for “the worst Democrat” in another, dubbed “Operation Chaos.”

Since South Carolina has open primaries where voters do not have to register by political party, voters can cast ballots in either race. 

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Changing that to create closed primaries requiring party registration has been a goal of some conservatives. And since the state’s Republican presidential primary was canceled this year with Trump running for reelection, this year’s Democratic primary provides opportunity both to help Trump by influencing the choice of his opponent and to make the case for closing primaries by casting meddlesome ballots.

“Rules are rules, and fair is fair,” said Karen Martin, a Spartanburg Tea Party official who helped set up a Facebook page promoting the effort for Republicans to vote for Sanders.

Fliers asking Republicans to cross parties in the presidential primary.

Martin said she sees the effort as payback for years of Democrats voting in Republican primaries.

“What if we got enough people to feel the pain we’ve been feeling?” she asked.

Discussions about organizing the effort began in the summer and went live Tuesday with social media, Martin said.

She said a Sanders win in South Carolina would especially hurt former Vice President Joe Biden and lead to a clear contrast between the agendas of Sanders and Trump, a development she feels would benefit Trump.

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