Monday, June 17, 2024

In S.C., Rep. Nancy Mace faces challenger backed by Kevin McCarthy

In S.C., Rep. Nancy Mace faces challenger backed by Kevin McCarthy


When eight House Republicans voted last year to remove Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) from the speakership, the then-congressman vowed revenge, promising to work to oust them from Congress.

McCarthy’s first opportunity for retribution comes on Tuesday, when Rep. Nancy Mace tries to fend off Republican primary challengers in the race to represent South Carolina’s 1st District. Mace is running for a third congressional term.

She faces two challengers: Marine Corps veteran Bill Young and Catherine Templeton, who served as director of South Carolina’s labor agency under then-Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and ran unsuccessfully for governor herself in 2018.

McCarthy has boosted Templeton’s campaign, spending $10,000 through his political action committee, Majority Committee PAC. Another PAC with ties to McCarthy, the American Prosperity Alliance, has contributed $15,000 to South Carolina Patriots PAC, an organization that has spent over $2.1 million to defeat Mace.

In a statement Monday, Mace’s campaign did not directly respond to questions about McCarthy’s spending to boost her opponent. The campaign said Mace “doesn’t work for Washington, she works for the people of South Carolina who elected her.”

“She’s not afraid to take on powerful people and powerful forces,” the statement said. “Serving the Lowcountry is the honor of her lifetime.”

Mace’s decision to vote to oust McCarthy in October 2023 surprised — and incensed — many of her GOP colleagues who, as The Washington Post reported at the time, had no insight into what Mace viewed as a path forward for the chamber’s leadership.

The seven other Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy are considered conservative hard-liners. Mace is seen as more of a mercurial figure.

While in recent years she has positioned herself as an ultraconservative and challenged GOP leaders on key votes, Mace first often sought the middle ground when she arrived in the House in 2021 after flipping her South Carolina seat.

Among other things, Mace condemned Donald Trump for his rhetoric regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Following her criticism, Trump endorsed Mace’s primary rival in her 2022 reelection bid. Mace, in turn, traveled to Trump Tower in New York and pledged her loyalty to the former president.

They appear to have made amends. Mace has endorsed Trump in this election cycle, and he has endorsed her despite McCarthy’s pledge for revenge.

“It is my great honor to Endorse a Strong Conservative Voice for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District,” Trump wrote on Monday in a post shared on his social media site Truth Social. “Nancy Mace worked hard campaigning across South Carolina in support of our Record-Breaking WIN.”

Templeton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

During the campaign, Templeton has fashioned herself as a staunch supporter of Trump and said she would focus in Washington on securing the border and cutting wasteful spending.

Mace is also running with the endorsement of House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), who said the congresswoman has “consistently proven herself to be an independent voice, unafraid to stand up for the values, interests, and needs of her constituents above all else.”

Aside from her disagreements with her House colleagues, Mace has also drawn attention for public disputes with former staffers and, most recently, for allegations that she instructed her staff to seek maximum reimbursements for cost-of-living expenses through a taxpayer-funded program.

South Carolina’s 1st District includes parts of Charleston. Though the district’s current boundaries were declared unconstitutional by a federal court in January 2023, the court allowed the map to be used in this election due to scheduling issues and voting deadlines.





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