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Nancy Mace Wins South Carolina Primary Over Trump Candidate

In one of the state’s most hotly-contested races, Republican Nancy Mace has won the primary race to represent the 1st Congressional District, beating Trump-backed Katie Arrington. Mace will face Annie Andrews in November.

(TNS) — Republican Nancy Mace defeated Katie Arrington in one of South Carolina’s most hotly-contested primary congressional races Tuesday, June 14, night, delivering another setback to Donald Trump’s primary endorsement record.

Mace’s win over Arrington, who was once Mace’s colleague in the State House, dashes Arrington’s second attempt to represent the 1st Congressional District after she won her primary in 2018 only to lose to Democrat Joe Cunningham.

The Associated Press called the race for Mace at 11:13 p.m., showing Mace with about 53 percentage points to Arrington’s nearly 45 percent.

Mace declared victory at her primary night event in Mount Pleasant. In her speech, she thanked Arrington, who conceded the race, for running against her.

“It is not easy to put yourself out there, to put yourself in public, to put it all on the line and take that risk,” Mace said. “I want to thank her for her passion.”

Arrington conceded and endorsed Mace from her primary night event in Summerville. Mace touted being an “independent voice” in the Republican Party, which she said is important to winning key swing districts across the country and regaining the Republican majority in Congress.

“Getting the majority starts right here in South Carolina,” Mace said. “So what are we going to do in November? Keep the 1st.”

She will face Charleston pediatrician Annie Andrews, the Democratic candidate who ran unopposed, in November.

Mace’s win puts her on track to potentially secure a second term as the 1st District’s representative, making her the first woman to win a reelection bid in the district.

If she claims victory in November, she would become the first female representative to win two consecutive terms in the Lowcountry district that covers Beaufort and Berkeley counties, as well as parts of Charleston, Colleton, Dorchester and Jasper counties.

A Slip In Trump's Influence

Mace, 44, adds another defeat to Trump’s national endorsement record, with Arrington joining the ranks of other Trump-backed losses like Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue.

Trump, who referred to Mace as an “absolutely terrible candidate,” endorsed Arrington in February. Mace responded through a video in front of Trump Tower posted to Twitter, where she said Arrington would be “more than qualified” to lose to a Democrat again, referencing Arrington’s 2018 loss to Cunningham.

Mace is the second Republican House incumbent from South Carolina Trump tried to oust. The other he was successful. State Rep. Russell Fry defeated U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach, who found himself a Trump target after he voted with nine Republicans to impeach Trump over his Jan. 6 riot response.

The outcome came as a surprise to some who anticipated the 7th District’s Republican primary to go to a runoff because it was a seven-person race.

But a loss for Trump doesn’t likely mean his influence will entirely go away in the state, where he enjoys overwhelming support among S.C. Republican voters.

It could, however, give a boost to other South Carolina Republicans, particularly former Trump administration official Nikki Haley, who are possibly eyeing a presidential run in 2024. Haley endorsed Mace in her primary and campaigned for her ahead of Tuesday.

Mace garnered endorsements in addition to Haley from a wide variety of political figures and organizations in the months leading up to Election Day, including former White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Summerville Mayor Ricky Waring and national lobbying organization the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Conflicting endorsements during the primaries are “unprecedented,” said Gibbs Knotts, a political science professor at the College of Charleston. Historically, party leaders rally behind a candidate after the primaries — a common practice Trump disrupted this election cycle.

“If Trump’s supporters eventually gain less influence, I could see going back to a little more of the status quo,” Knotts told The State.

Knotts said Mace’s win reveals an interesting statement about the power of the moderate vote.

“It says that Republicans in this district were not as loyal to Donald Trump and really probably focused on getting someone in who can win a competitive district,” Knotts said.

Who Is Nancy Mace?

Mace, born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and raised in Goose Creek, was raised in a military family. She graduated from South Carolina’s military college The Citadel, becoming the first female graduate from the Corp of Cadets program. She continued her education by getting a master’s degree in journalism and mass communication at the University of Georgia.

Mace’s involvement in South Carolina politics goes back to 2013, when she launched her campaign for the U.S. Senate but was unsuccessful against her then-opponent Sen. Lindsey Graham.

In 2016, she worked for Trump’s presidential campaign. In her first successful campaign run, Mace won in a special election for House District 99 after going to a runoff in 2017. She was reelected in 2018.

During her term, she was an advocate for providing inclusion for rape and incest in a six-week “fetal heartbeat” abortion ban after she publicly shared the story of a rape she had kept secret for more than two decades. She also was a vocal opponent of offshore drilling on South Carolina’s coastline.

Mace has been a proponent for decriminalizing marijuana, although she voted against the Democrat-led bill to legalize the drug earlier this year. She said the bill went too far and gave the federal government too much power over the issue.

In 2020, Mace successfully ran for the 1st District that she holds today, making Cunningham a one-term congressman. Though she worked for Trump’s campaign in 2016, the two have been at odds since Jan. 6, 2021, when Mace criticized the former president’s response to the Capitol riot and voted to certify the 2020 presidential election.

With a campaign focused on emphasizing flaws within the Biden administration in recent weeks, Mace prioritized hot-button issues from inflation, to rising gas prices and defending Ukraine.

Additionally, Mace echoed other Republican priorities, such as strengthening the U.S. southern border, opposing calls to remove resources for police and voicing support for anti-abortion legislation.

Mace's New Challenger, Annie Andrews

Mace will face Democrat Andrews, who ran unopposed, in November. The Charleston pediatrician announced her run on Nov. 8.

As a gun violence prevention researcher and member of Moms Demand Action, an organization focused on passing gun reform laws, Andrews’ campaign has focused heavily on gun control, especially in the aftermath of the Uvalde, Texas, school shooting and subsequent mass shootings around the country.

Andrews also ran on improving health care access, expanding voting rights and addressing climate change.

“Nancy Mace is an incredibly vulnerable opponent,” Andrews told The State. “She ran against Joe Cunningham in 2020 as a moderate, independent voice. But now she has a voting record in Congress, which is anything but moderate.”

The 1st District now leans more Republican after the Legislature redrew the U.S. House districts based on the 2020 census. The new map solidified Republican control over the district by splitting up Charleston between the 1st and 6th districts. The 6th District is the only district represented by a Democrat.

©2022 The State. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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