June 24th, 2024

US Rep. Nancy Mace wins Republican primary challenge in South Carolina after tumultuous term


By Jeffrey Collins, The Associated Press on June 11, 2024.

FILE - Rep. Adam Morgan, speaks out against individual spending in member districts, May 9, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. Morgan is taking on U.S. Rep. William Timmons for the Upstate 4th District in the 2024 South Carolina primaries. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace has won the Republican nomination after a tumultuous second term in South Carolina that saw her go from an enemy to ally of former President Donald Trump and make headlines for plenty of things off the House floor.

Mace defeated challengers Catherine Templeton and Bill Young in voting that ended Tuesday. She will face a Democratic opponent in the general election in the 1st District, which is the closest thing South Carolina has to a swing district in the Republican-dominated state.

Trump’s endorsement – after he called her crazy and terrible in 2022 – is just one of many ways Mace has attracted a spotlight far greater than a typical second-term member of Congress.

She’s a regular on interview shows, often antagonizing the hosts. She calls for her party to moderate on abortion and marijuana but joined some of the farthest right members to oust former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Mace has said her positions and beliefs aren’t erratic – she is just reflecting the values of the 1st District, which stretches from the centuries-old neighborhoods of Charleston down the coast to Beaufort County’s booming freshly built neighborhoods of retirees moving to South Carolina from somewhere else.

Her opponents argued that by seeming to land everywhere on issues, Mace is nowhere.

Templeton ran South Carolina’s health and environmental agency to some angst a decade ago and in her only political race finished third in the 2018 GOP gubernatorial primary won by Gov. Henry McMaster. Young is a Marine veteran and financial planner.

The Democrats have a primary in the 1st District too. Businessman and former International African American Museum CEO Michael Moore faces Mac Deford, a Citadel graduate and lawyer for a couple of the larger bedroom communities in the district.

South Carolina lawmakers drew the district to be more Republican after the seat flipped for one term in 2018. The 1st District was the only congressional district won by Nikki Haley over Trump in the 2024 South Carolina Republican presidential primary.

4th District

South Carolina’s other U.S. House member in a primary reelection fight is Republican Rep. William Timmons in the 4th District, anchored by Greenville and Spartanburg.

Timmons’ divorce – and a widely shared Instagram post by a husband who said Timmons had an affair with his wife – has complicated his reelection bid. Timmons has denied the allegations and asked for privacy.

Timmons’ challenger as he seeks a fourth term is South Carolina Rep. Adam Morgan, who leads the chamber’s Freedom Caucus, a group of the most conservative lawmakers in state government. He is coming after Timmons from the right, saying he isn’t conservative enough to be a true Republican.

Trump backed Timmons. U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida, who helped boot McCarthy as House speaker, has boosted Morgan’s campaign through social media.

3rd District

South Carolina’s 3rd District is wide open after Republican Rep. Jeff Duncan decided not to run again after seven terms. Duncan’s wife of 35 years filed for divorce in 2023, accusing him of several affairs.

Seven Republicans are in the race and there is no true frontrunner. The district in the northwest corner of the state contains several small population centers.

Gov. McMaster endorsed longtime friend and nurse practitioner Sheri Biggs in her first run for political office. Trump’s backing went to Mark Burns, a Black pastor who has backed Trump since before his first race for president.

The other candidates are Kevin Bishop, who worked for more than 25 years for U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham; Stewart Jones, who has served five years in the South Carolina House and is the only candidate with political experience; Franky Franco, who is a businessman and the son of a Cuban exile and an immigrant from Ecuador; Phil Healy, who served in the U.S. Navy for 23 years; and Elspeth Snow Murday, a political newcomer who examines the genes of crops.

The Democratic primary in the 3rd District is between high school science teacher Frances Guldner and Byron Best, who manages a Sherwin-Williams paint store in Greenwood.

Other races

The only other U.S. House incumbent facing a primary challenger is Republican Rep. Joe Wilson who won the party’s nomination as he seeks a 12th full term in the 2nd District, which stretches from suburban areas around Columbia west and south toward Aiken.

In the 6th District Republican primary, attorney Duke Buckner is taking on welder Justin Scott. The winner faces Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, who is seeking a 17th term in the state’s majority-minority district that is bounded by areas around Charleston, Beaufort and Columbia.

In the 7th District Democratic primary, teacher Mal Hyman, who calls himself an independent Democrat, faces Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom veteran Daryl Scott. The winner takes on Republican U.S. Rep. Russel Fry, who is seeking a second term in the district that stretches from Myrtle Beach to Florence in the northeast part of the state.

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