The figure at the vanguard of that latter camp is Pressley Stutts, a local Tea Party leader who has been a thorn in the side of allegedly establishment “RINOs”—Republicans in name only—for years.
Like many Republicans, Stutts has followed the ex-president and right-wing media into a morass of conspiracy theories that the election was rigged, and the feckless Republican politicians and officials he’d derided for years were doing nothing to stop it. That rhetoric fomented the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6; Stutts, in fact, was proudly there that day.
Beginning in December, Stutts and his allies have undertaken a sweeping campaign to train rank-and-file voters—“people who understand President Trump’s MAGA agenda and live by it,” as he wrote on Facebook—on how to wield power in local party politics. From the ground up, they’re planning to oust and replace officials all the way to the state party. Stutts, who is aiming for a leadership position in the Greenville County GOP, has urged Lin Wood, the Atlanta lawyer who has become an icon to the conspiracy-obsessed right, in his nascent bid for the state GOP chairmanship after he left Georgia for South Carolina.