Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Kevin McCarthy’s first target in his revenge tour: Nancy Mace

By 37ci3 Jun11,2024

DANIEL ISLAND, SC – Rep. Nancy Mays is no stranger to infighting. Now, his role in last year’s big GOP fight — the ousting of Kevin McCarthy as House speaker — makes his primary job tougher on Tuesday.

Both a third-term candidate and his own campaign manager, Mays has drawn the ire of top Republicans in his few short years in Washington. In 2022, it was former President Donald Trump they’ve been fixing things ever since. Then, a year later, he voted in historic fashion to install a speaker of the House of Representatives from his own party.

In fact, Mace is the first thing that comes to mind when asked about his stake in his latest political fight against a primary challenger running on McCarthy’s support.

Former Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Nancy Mays, R.S.C.
Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Rep. Nancy Mays, R-S.C.Getty Images; SIPA through AP

“This is about revenge,” Mace said in an interview at his Daniel Island campaign headquarters. “It’s also about honesty and integrity. “My vote to oust Kevin McCarthy was about trust.”

Mace says he doesn’t regret the vote.

McCarthy, in turn, said his support of GOP candidates who challenge several of the “crazy eight,” as he calls Republicans who voted against him, has nothing to do with political vendetta. Sources close to McCarthy note he is limited to what he can do directly outside of giving money and advice. His spokesman declined a request for an interview.

But McCarthy-aligned operatives are channeling large sums of money into these races through outside groups. Tuesday’s challenge to Mace is the first test, followed by next week’s Virginia primary for House Freedom Caucus Chairman Bob Goode. Two other anti-McCarthy voters — Arizona’s Eli Crane and Florida’s Matt Gaetz — also face primary challengers this summer.

Catherine Templeton, in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, said Mason’s vote against McCarthy was “absolutely” what led him to run against Mace. Templeton is also a Trump supporter and served as labor secretary in South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s Cabinet at the time.

Catherine Templeton
Catherine Templeton at a Trump rally in North Charleston on February 14.Meg Kinnard/AP

Before launching his bid, Templeton met with Brian O. Walsh, a GOP political strategist and McCarthy ally. But he He told “The Post and Courier” publication The Charleston newspaper said he had not talked to McCarthy “about removing Congressman Mace, but I asked him for help in raising money.” McCarthy contributed to Templeton’s campaign through his leadership PAC.

However, Templeton also downplayed the former speaker’s role here, speaking between campaign stops in Beaufort.

“His antics have consequences,” said Templeton Mace, although it is obviously related to the historic vote, an act defined as a larger race. “I’m sure we respect Kevin McCarthy, who is a wonderful person: Nobody pays attention to Kevin McCarthy in the Lowcountry of South Carolina.”

Advertisements are what can attract voters’ attention.

Three outside groups affiliated with McCarthy allies — the American Prosperity Alliance, South Carolina Patriots PAC and Lowcountry Conservatives — spent more than $4 million on anti-Mace ads alone, according to AdImpact, the ad tracking firm. The congresswoman also has her own foreign cavalry. The Growth Action Club and one of its affiliates spent $3 million in advertising to promote Mace.

Despite the attacks from outsiders and the negative attention the McCarthy vote brought here, there are positives for Mace’s campaign. He won Trump’s support after returning to office on January 6, 2021, following criticism of Trump following the Capitol riots.

“It was an easy call to support Donald Trump” in 2024, he said, “because we had four years of Joe Biden” — a 180-degree turn from his statement that the GOP should walk away from Trump after the Capitol attack.

While the speaker’s vote may not win him friends in D.C., it could affect his appeal with key voters at home.

“Part of the reason he’s being challenged right now is because he’s challenging the system,” said South Carolina GOP strategist Dave Wilson, who is not involved in the race. “So it’s kind of playing off of, ‘Hey, listen, if you want to find someone who’s willing to take down the system when they need to, Donald Trump and Nancy Mays are willing to do that.’

A handful of House Republicans facing challenges sometimes talk about the McCarthy aspect, Mace allowed. “But I’m a band member,” he said. “I don’t report to anyone in Washington. I don’t work for anyone. I work for South Carolina.”

He defeated a primary challenger in 2022, backed by Trump. This time, “60-40” signs plastered on the walls at his campaign headquarters show his hopes of placating protesters by winning more than the 50% needed to win the GOP primary. and avoid the flow. A third candidate, Marine veteran Bill Young, is running in the GOP primary, meaning a runoff is possible.

“Everybody’s leaving me for dead, aren’t they?” Mace said, wondering how his party had come to him. “They say that in every election, he is out.” It’s always “he’ll never make it” and then we do it. “I want to win more than ever on Tuesday night because I want to send a message to Washington that voters don’t care about DC.”

Ali Vitali and Kyle Stewart reported from Daniel Island and Bridget Bowman from Washington.

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