Elections

Rep. Nancy Mace Beats Back Trump-Endorsed Primary Challenger

(Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Reporter
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Republican Rep. Nancy Mace defeated former state Rep. Katie Arrington in Tuesday’s GOP primary contest for South Carolina’s First District, the second time Arrington has failed to win the seat.

With 88% of votes recorded, Mace received 53% support and Arrington garnered 45%. The results are a major loss for former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Arrington and frequently inveighed against Mace. Mace received key support from former United Nations ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, who campaigned frequently with her in the closing days of the race.

Several forecasters called the race shortly before 11pm Eastern Time.

Days before the primary, Mace predicted in an interview with Fox News that she would win by “double digits.”

“We have overwhelming support,” she said. “We’re cresting at the end here.”

Trump endorsed Arrington’s primary challenge to Mace after a series of comments from the freshman representative criticizing the former president’s continued influence over the Republican Party. Mace voted to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory on Jan. 6, 2021, and voted in favor of a contempt resolution against former Trump advisor Steve Bannon.

In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, Mace said that members of Congress “need to find a way to hold the President accountable.”

“I want to be a new voice for the Republican Party, and that’s one of the reasons I’ve spoken out so strongly against the President, against these QAnon conspiracy theorists that led us in a constitutional crisis. It’s just wrong and we’ve got to put a stop to it,” she argued at the time.

Trump responded by endorsing Arrington, who lost to Democrat Joe Cunningham in 2018 after defeating former Republican Rep. Mark Sanford in a primary. (RELATED: Will Trump Oust Two ‘Backstabbing’ Republicans For His Birthday?)

“Nancy fights Republicans all the time and is not at all nice about it. Frankly, she is despised by almost everyone, and who needs that in Congress, or in the Republican Party?” he said in a statement released the Sunday before the primary.

One of the first women to graduate from The Citadel Corps of Cadets, Mace highlighted national security issues throughout her campaign. The First District includes the Marine Corps training facility at Parris Island, and Mace ran ads noting Arrington’s loss of a security clearance in 2021. Mace also promoted her efforts to prevent budget cuts intended to lead to the closing of the facility.

Mace will likely go on to keep her seat in November. The First District leans 17 points towards the GOP, according to FiveThirtyEight.