Demographics and Elections Commentary tagged with People DO Change

6/10/2024: [South Carolina] Who Are You, and What Have You Done With Nancy Mace? [RightDataUSA]

Three high-profile primaries in U.S. House districts will be held tomorrow in South Carolina. In solidly Republican CD-3 (Anderson and the northwest portion of the state), seven candidates are vying to replace 7-term conservative Jeff Duncan, who is retiring rather than face a campaign that would feature nasty (and unproven) allegations from his vindictive soon-to-be ex-wife. In solidly Republican CD-4 (Greenville/Spartanburg) Trump-supported incumbent William Timmons is facing conservative state legislator Adam Morgan, who is being boosted by outspoken conservative congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida. Timmons had no Democrat opposition in 2022 but he achieved only 52.7% in a four-way primary that year, and this one could be close too.

But the most interesting and important primary is taking place in CD-1 (Charleston and suburbs), where incumbent Nancy Mace is being opposed by a pair of foes. The race has attracted attention from major players in both wings of the GOP -- Donald Trump and Matt Gaetz support Mace; squishes like Newt Gingrich and vengeful ex-Speaker Kevin McCarthy support Catherine Templeton, who labels herself as a conservative (GOP challengers in right-leaning districts always attempt to appear conservative -- in the primary) and claims a tenuous connection to Donald Trump, in that the former President supposedly once "considered" her for a cabinet position.

Unlike CD-3 and CD-4, Mace's district is certainly not solidly Republican although for now it does tilt in that direction. As recently as 2018, the district elected Joe Cunningham, an extremely well-funded Democrat who squeaked his way into Congress as the result of intra-party squabbling and backstabbing within the GOP. This is the exact same thing certain liberal elements in the Republican party are aiming for in the 2024 campaign here, in hopes of attaining the same outcome -- the ousting of a Republican they despise -- regardless of whether it is by another Republican or by a Democrat.

This time, Mace is the candidate they despise. Which is the #1 reason that the good people of her district should vote for her.

The Charleston-based district has been quite volatile politically in recent years. When the voters of this district sent Republican Mark Sanford back to Congress for a second stint in a 2013 special election, it appeared that they had forgiven him for his erratic behavior including (but not limited to) his Kennedy-esque extramarital affairs, his sudden unexplained disappearance while Governor in 2009, and his surprising reappearance in Argentina several days later.

Sanford compiled a generally conservative record throughout most of that second stint in the House. In 2018 however, Sanford split with President Trump and ran shrieking to the left, opposing Trump on nearly 50% of his House votes that year.

Trump endorsed Katie Arrington, a mostly moderate state legislator, in the 2018 GOP primary against Sanford. Arrington won that primary by the margin of 50.6% to 46.5%, narrowly averting a runoff. In the 2018 general election, Cunningham and the Democrats outstpent Arrington by 50%, while the GOP establishment abandoned Arrington when they weren't busy knifing her in the back; she had to finance a significant portion of her own campaign. Arrington lost by just over 1% in November.

Arrington would be heard from again, but not in 2020 when the Republicans united behind Nancy Mace. Mace, who had compiled a moderate-to-slightly-conservative record during her three years in the SC state House, recaptured CD-1 for the Republicans by about the same narrow margin which Arrington had lost it two years earlier. The Democrats spent over $7 million trying to keep Cunningham in office, plus another $6 million in "independent" expenditures opposing Mace. But the GOP fought back and was able to compete on almost equal financial footing in the 2020 campaign. Mace evicted Cunningham from the House even as Trump's margin in CD-1 was falling from 13% in 2016 to only 6% in 2020.

CD-1 was redistricted to be slightly more Republican after 2020, a pertinent factor which will be addressed below.

Mace was no conservative during her first three years in Congress, and she became a self-appointed poster child for her wing of the GOP. She regularly ran to the liberal media and criticized her conservative colleagues, and others on the right, for their attacks on "RINOs" and she warned that such attacks would severely damage the party at the polls.

Mace, who according to her bio played a substantial role in the Trump campaign in 2016 in South Carolina, eventually broke with the former President. It didn't help matters when she said Trump was "accountable" for the so-called "attack" on the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

In the 2022 Republican primary, Trump and the conservatives threw their weight behind Arrington, who was making her second bid for the CD-1 seat. The right did claim a scalp in the 2022 South Carolina primary, that of Trump impeachment RINO Tom Rice in CD-7, but Mace survived without a runoff when Arrington came up several points short. Democrats only tepidly contested this seat in November of 2022, and Mace easily won the R+7 district.

As recently as last year Mace was still being her usual irritating moderate self.... and then something odd happened.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite / Associated Press

In October of 2023 Mace was part of a small cabal of GOP representatives who voted to remove Assistant Democrat Kevin McCarthy as Speaker. Who knew at the time that Mike "Pence" Johnson would be just as craven and cowardly?

McCarthy then went berserk and vowed to destroy his conservative enemies, of which six remain in the House: Matt Gaetz, Andy Biggs, Bob Good, Eli Crane, Tim Burchett, and Mace. As is well known by now, the petulant McCarthy later resigned from Congress, took his binky -- and his huge bundle of campaign cash -- and slinked home. As of the last financial reports, the spiteful California crybully still has raised more money than any House Republican, even though McCarthy himself is not running for office; that money will finance McCarthy's "Revenge Tour" in an attempt to purge the House of as many conservatives as possible.

In 2024, Mace's voting record in the House has been 100% conservative. Not 75%, not 85%, not even 99% -- 100 percent. She has earned the forgiveness of Donald Trump and regained his support; Trump gave her his blessing in March after Mace had endorsed Trump several weeks earlier.

Many voters may still be reluctant to support Mace despite:

  • Her recent conversion to righteous conservatism
  • Trump's endorsement
  • Her critical role in dethroning Squish McCarthy
  • The fact that the liberal wing of the GOP now detests her

Nobody is suggesting that a politician who sticks her finger into the wind and changes course accordingly is to be respected or trusted. But that's not what Nancy Mace did here, opinions of the haters notwithstanding.

We mentioned redistricting earlier in this commentary. For all of 2023 and most of 2024 there was every reason to believe that Mace's district would be altered again and moved sharply to the left, in a racist effort to favor Democrats. Her move to the right under those circumstances would hardly constitute "blowing with the wind". If anything, in order to be re-elected she would need to run away from anything resembling conservatism in order to attract Democrat votes.

Only a few short weeks ago did Mace get a reprieve. On May 23 the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the arguments of the professional racists at the NAACP. They ruled that South Carolina does not need to redistrict again and gerrymander Mace's congressional district to make it solidly Democrat.

We not only need more conservatives in Congress, we need more conservative fighters. Mace has always been aggressive, and now that she is finally fighting the GOOD fight, we strongly support her re-election bid and all conservatives should do so as well.

Addendum: Mace's main financial opposition -- to the tune of 2 million dollars for the May 11 primary alone -- is something called "South Carolina Patriots PAC" which just sprung into existence a few months ago for the express purpose of torpedoing Mace. It has contributed to no other races in the state, or anywhere else. It's being funded by McCarthy's millionaire allies in order to give the coward some "plausible deniability". McCarthy has apparently only contributed a token amount of the money he bilked his own contributors out of, for the alleged purpose of financing his own re-election which of course isn't happening.

If you like dark-money GOP establishment RINO puppets, you'll love Catherine Templeton.


2024 House South Carolina People DO Change