Mace Defeats McCarthy-Backed Challenger in South Carolina Primary

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) is one of eight Republicans who voted to oust House Speaker Kevin McCarthy last year.
Mace Defeats McCarthy-Backed Challenger in South Carolina Primary
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) speaks during a team Trump South Carolina press conference in Mount Pleasant, S.C., on Feb. 2, 2024. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Joseph Lord

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) defeated Catherine Templeton on June 11 to win the Republican nomination for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District.

The Associated Press projected the victory for Ms. Mace less than two hours after polls closed.

Ms. Mace—one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in October 2023—is seeking reelection in the district, which encompasses the environs of the city of Charleston and much of the state’s coastline.

Ms. Templeton is one of several candidates Mr. McCarthy has endorsed since his removal.

Ahead of the race, polls indicated that most voters still backed Trump-endorsed Ms. Mace, who would start her third term in office next year if she wins the general election.

According to two polls conducted in May and aggregated by FiveThirtyEight, Ms. Mace enjoyed a substantial lead over Ms. Templeton before primary day.

In the most recent district poll, Ms. Mace was 25 points ahead of Ms. Templeton, but 24 percent of voters were undecided.

Another poll found a slightly closer race, with Ms. Mace ahead by 22 points. That survey also indicated that 33 percent of voters were undecided.

Ms. Templeton also slightly led Ms. Mace in fundraising in 2024—a fact which, according to the local paper The Post and Courier, indicated that the race may be “closer than expected.”

Of the eight anti-McCarthy Republicans, Ms. Mace is the first to face a primary challenge.

Two lawmakers who ousted Mr. McCarthy—Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) and Ken Buck (R-Colo.)—aren’t seeking reelection.

South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District has a track record of sometimes-moderate leanings, and Ms. Mace’s victory here could indicate that Republican voters don’t intend to to go after lawmakers who ousted McCarthy.

The five other lawmakers who voted Mr. McCarthy out and remain in the race—Reps. Bob Good (R-Va.), Eli Crane (R-Ariz.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.), and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)—will face off against other McCarthy-backed challengers in contests to be held between June and August.

Mace Poised for Election Victory

By defeating Ms. Templeton, Ms. Mace is in a highly favorable position to win the district in November, which is now rated “solid Republican” by the Cook Political Report.

That’s due in large part to a reworking of the district in accordance with the results of the 2020 census.

In the new map, large chunks of Charleston and North Charleston, which are heavily black areas, were moved to Rep. Jim Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) neighboring 6th Congressional District. The move bolstered the reelection odds of both Ms. Mace and Mr. Clyburn, South Carolina’s only Democrat in Congress.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster signed off on the electoral map in January 2022. The map’s effects were immediately visible in elections later that year.

In 2020, before the adoption of the new map, Ms. Mace was elected by a thin margin, defeating one-term Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) by 1.3 points, or around 6,000 votes.

But, in 2022, Ms. Mace easily defeated the Democrat by a 14-point margin, effectively ending Democrat aspirations to replicate Mr. Cunningham’s 2018 electoral upset.

The redrawn map was challenged by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), which sued South Carolina, claiming that racial gerrymandering was behind the new Congressional map.

In May, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with South Carolina, ruling that plaintiffs had failed to prove that the map was racially gerrymandered.