In case you missed it, South Carolina state representative Nancy Mace was on the cover of USA Today this month.
Mace was featured by the national publication for her advocacy on behalf of an anti-abortion bill in the Palmetto State – one that included exemptions for rape and incest. These exemptions were included in the bill after Mace shared her personal history as a rape survivor – drawing attacks from those who oppose these exemptions.
The bill did not become law, but the high-profile tit-for-tat only helped Mace … offering the latest evidence of her adeptness at positioning herself on hot-button issues.
This is one reason why Mace is a leading candidate to become the Republican nominee for the Palmetto State’s first congressional district – which was claimed last fall by Democrat Joe Cunningham in a shocking upset.
National Republicans have made reclaiming this seat their No. 1 priority in the 2020 election cycle … while at the same time making it abundantly clear they prefer a female candidate to serve as their standard-bearer.
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Given her emergence as a credible congressional candidate (frontrunner?) Mace has no shortage of detractors, but the opponent that could conceivably complicate her political ascendency is former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley.
This news outlet has written previously about the feud between Haley and Mace, but according to our sources it flared up again this week.
Specifically, we are told Haley made a “full-court press” in the hopes of convincing two female candidates to enter the race – pledging not only her endorsement but also extensive financial support from the wealthy network of donors she cultivated during her two years as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
The goal of these entreaties? Keeping Mace from becoming the GOP nominee …
As we reported several months ago, Haley’s opposition to Mace first became clear when the latter traveled to Washington, D.C. to meet with several prominent GOP donors. It then became the subject of significant chatter earlier this year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Not content with dogging Mace out to donors, it appears Haley is now actively engaged in recruiting candidates to run against her.
According to our sources, Haley’s hatred of Mace dates back to 2010 when she was a co-owner of this news outlet and our founding editor, Will Folks, confessed having an inappropriate physical relationship with Haley in early 2007.
Mace had absolutely nothing to do with that drama, but Haley continues to hold it against her regardless.
Our sources reminded us of a meeting between the two female politicians held in Columbia, S.C. right around the time Haley appointed then-congressman Tim Scott to the U.S. Senate. At the time, Scott employed Mace as a political consultant – an arrangement Haley allegedly nixed as a condition of his appointment.
Mace attempted to bury the hatchet during the meeting, we are told, but Haley wasn’t hearing it.
And clearly still isn’t hearing it …
Our view? As we expressed in our original treatment of this escalating feud, “Haley’s behind-the-scenes undermining of Mace is childish … and unnecessary.”
But will it be effective?
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As of this writing, one potentially credible female candidate – Mount Pleasant, S.C. town councilwoman Kathy Landing – is eyeing the first district. It is not clear whether Landing or her backers have had any conversations with Haley, but the financial planner has a deep network of fundraising contacts and has reportedly indicated a willingness to spend some of her own money on the race as well.
Were that to happen, any additional financial support provided by Haley’s national network could make Landing a very potent challenger to Mace.
The GOP battle for the first district has evolved considerably since we first began to assess a possible field last November. Arrington, Templeton and a trio of state senators – Tom Davis of Beaufort, Chip Campsen of Charleston and Larry Grooms of Berkeley County – have all made it clear they are not running for the seat.
Also, efforts by national Republicans to convince Charleston County councilwoman Jenny Honeycutt to enter the race also came up short, we are told.
Stay tuned … while it is obviously very on early in the process, the bad blood between Haley and Mace (well, the bad blood from Haley toward Mace) is shaping up as one of the more potentially impactful narratives in this election.
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