Nancy Mace faces Kevin McCarthy-backed challenger in Republican primary

The race to represent South Carolina’s first Congressional District is shaping up to be a proxy fight between Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace and former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy.

Mace, who is seeking a third term in Congress, was one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy as Speaker last year. Since then, McCarthy has rallied behind Republican primary candidates running against his defectors, including Mace’s primary challenger, Catherine Templeton, the former director of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation under then-Gov. Nikki Haley.

No incumbents have lost in primaries so far this cycle unless redistricting has come into play. But campaign finance filings show McCarthy’s political action committee, Majority Committee PAC, has donated to Templeton’s campaign, making Mace the first GOP McCarthy ouster to be challenged at the ballot box.

Templeton has the support of another former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, as well as long-time Congressman Joe Wilson of South Carolina, but she did not get former President Trump’s endorsement. 

FDA Commissioner Califf Testifies In House Oversight Hearing
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) speaks during a hearing with the House Oversight and Accountability committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on April 11, 2024 in Washington, DC.  Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images

One day before voters headed to the polls in the Palmetto State, Trump reminded his followers to vote for Mace, a reversal since 2022 when Trump endorsed Mace’s primary challenger.

“Congresswoman Nancy Mace has my Complete and Total Endorsement! South Carolina, Get out to Vote TOMORROW!” Trump said on Truth Social.

Mace and Trump haven’t always had such a cozy relationship. Just days after the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Mace voted ‘No’ to impeach then-President Trump, but said, “I hold him accountable for the events that transpired for the attack on our Capitol.”

Three years later, Mace endorsed Trump’s 2024 presidential bid in a post on X one day before the New Hampshire primaries.

“The time has come to unite behind our nominee,” she wrote. “To be honest, it’s been a complete sh** show since he left the White House.”

Last month, an Emerson College/The Hill survey found Mace leading Templeton but still not meeting the threshold to avoid a runoff. Primary candidates in the state need a majority of the votes to win. If neither candidate exceeds 50%, there will be a runoff on June 25.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday

Hunter Woodall contributed to this report.

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