Nancy Mace beats Trump-endorsed challenger in South Carolina primary

Representative Nancy Mace beat back a Republican primary challenger who former president Donald Trump endorsed in South Carolina’s 1st district.

Ms Mace beat Katie Arrington on Tuesday evening despite her previous criticism of Mr Trump and Mr Trump’s vocal opposition in response. Ms Mace won her first term in 2020, when she beat incumbent Democratic representative Joe Cunningham.

Mr Cunningham won his race in 2018 when he beat Ms Arrington after Ms Arrington beat incumbent Republican Representative Mark Sanford in the primary that year. Mr Trump had endorsed her that year as well because of Mr Sanford’s repeated criticisms of Mr Trump.

Ms Mace worked on Mr Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But after the January 6 riot, she criticised him publicly, saying “his entire legacy was wiped out yesterday”. Despite this, she voted against impeaching Mr Trump and instead called for him to be censured. She also voted to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress last year.

That proved to be enough for Mr Trump, who endorsed Ms Arrington’s challenge to her.

“Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal”, he said in his endorsement statement earlier this year.

In response, Ms Mace posted a video of herself in front of Trump Tower in New York City. But Mr Trump mocked the video at a rally in Florence.

“She went to New York and stood in front of the magnificent Trump Tower – has anyone ever heard of Trump Tower – and did a commercial insinuating that I was endorsing her,” he said. “She’s standing over in front of Trump Tower in New York. I’m saying ‘can you believe this?’ It was untruthful just like everything else she does.”

Ms Mace has taken an unorthodox approach during her first term. In December, she engaged in a war of words with Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of Mr Trump’s most vocal defenders in Congress, after Ms Greene accused her of being “pro-abort.” In response, Ms Mace, a rape survivor, said “bless her f**king heart”.

“She’s a liar and a grifter of the first order. And I don’t tolerate from Democrats or Republicans and I’ve been clear, I’ve been consistent on that since the day I got elected and I’m not going to put up with any of her bullsh*t, never have and never will”, Ms Mace said at the time.

But Ms Mace has also been criticised for trying to straddle both lines on Covid-19 and vaccination, as was the case when she praised “natural immunity” when she was on Fox News but then touting vaccination on CNN.

The 1st district was initially a tossup, but redistricting made it lean overwhelmingly for Republicans, FiveThirtyEight found.

Ms Mace’s victory comes as Representative Tom Rice of the 7th district lost to a Republican primary challenger after he voted to impeach Mr Trump.