The challenge from the South Carolina GOP

Over the weekend, the South Carolina Republican Party elected a new chairman, electing businessman Chad Connelly to the job. Under the circumstances, it’s no small promotion — South Carolina is home to one of the first presidential nominating contests, and the state GOP chair will have a fair amount of influence in the process.

Connelly quickly announced he intends to be President Obama’s “worst nightmare.” As it turns out, it may be his own party’s candidates feeling anxiety.

ThinkProgress caught up with Connelly after his party victory and asked a good question.

KEYES: Obviously the primary here in South Carolina is going to be a big issue and no one knows the ground game better than yourself. Do you think a candidate is going to be able to win the South Carolina primary if they do not endorse the Ryan budget?

CONNELLY: I don’t think so. That’s really getting some appeal among the conservatives, you’re going to see all of them talk to that I believe.

There may be some pundits who buy into this — David Brooks gushed last month that Paul Ryan’s radical budget plan “will become the 2012 Republican platform, no matter who is the nominee” — but at this point, Democrats can only dream that this is true.

Indeed, if this becomes a litmus-test issue in South Carolina, Dems will be delighted. The Ryan agenda, after all, is deeply unpopular, and among other things, ends Medicare. Republican presidential candidates shouldn’t even expect to compete unless they endorse it?

Sounds great. What’s it going to be, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty? How about you, Mitch Daniels and Jon Huntsman? The chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party is looking for a yes-or-no answer on the House budget agenda.

And he’s not the only one.