Former U.S. president Donald Trump will endorse former South Carolina state representative Katie Arrington in her yet-to-be-announced bid for the Palmetto State’s first congressional district against GOP incumbent Nancy Mace, multiple sources familiar with his plans have confirmed to this news outlet.
The news comes just moments after I exclusively reported that Trump was planning on endorsing fourth-term state representative Russell Fry – an attorney from Surfside Beach, S.C. – in his bid to defeat incumbent Tom Rice in the Palmetto State’s seventh congressional district.
These sources cautioned that Trump is notoriously mercurial and that his mood could swing “at any moment for any reason” – thus rendering decisions made today obsolete tomorrow.
Still, Trump’s 2022 plan for the Palmetto State – whose voters play a pivotal role in the quadrennial “First in the South” presidential primary elections – is beginning to come into focus.
“He’s going to play in both races, no doubt,” one source told me. “And he’s going to bet heavy on his horses.”
Another source confirmed Trump’s efforts would involve a “deluge” of independent expenditure money devoted to “exposing Rice and Mace for the RINOs they are.”
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RINO stands for “Republican in Name Only.” The term is invoked often by conservative activists – and adherents of Trump’s MAGA movement – in referring to establishment GOP politicians who fail to live up to the party’s stated principles of lower taxes, limited government and more personal freedom.
And make no mistake … there are plenty of those in South Carolina (including plenty whom Trump has endorsed).
As noted in prior coverage, Trump is targeting Rice after he joined nine other GOP lawmakers in voting to impeach then-president Trump over the latter’s alleged “incitement” of a mob that stormed the U.S. capitol on January 6, 2021. The fifth-term incumbent has since doubled down on that decision, while his wife – commercial realtor Wrenzie Rice – fanned the flames by referring to Trump’s supporters as a “cult” and likening the ex-president to Adolf Hitler.
As for Mace, Trump is livid that she criticized him in the aftermath of the rioting – although she did not join Rice in voting to impeach him.
“Everything that he’s worked for … all of that – his entire legacy – was wiped out yesterday,” Mace said the day after the bloody assault on the capitol.
Last November, Trump announced that Mace was one of the GOP lawmakers in Washington, D.C. he was targeting for defeat. That confirmed my prior coverage … which delved extensively into the origins of Trump’s disdain for his former South Carolina staffer.
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Arrington has yet to announce that she will campaign against Mace, however a poll was reportedly conducted last week on her behalf with that objective in mind. Meanwhile, a separate poll reportedly showed Arrington within “striking distance” of the first-term incumbent – with Mace drawing support in the mid-forties and Arrington drawing support in the upper-thirties.
And that’s before a dime of independent expenditure money is … well … expended.
Arrington recently settled a case with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) regarding her alleged disclosure of classified information during her tenure at the agency – a move which those close to her say has paved the way for her to resume her political career.
Arrington was enjoying a decorated career at DOD prior to the allegations leveled against her. Before her work at the agency, she spent two years in the S.C. House of Representatives representing Charleston and Dorchester counties. In 2018, Arrington vanquished incumbent first district U.S. congressman Mark Sanford in a GOP primary for the first district – the former South Carolina governor’s first-ever electoral defeat.
After being sidelined for months following a horrific car crash in June of 2018, Arrington was narrowly defeated by lobbyist/ “ocean engineer” Joe Cunningham in the November general election – swinging this district “blue” for the first time in nearly four decades.
Mace recaptured the seat for the GOP in the November 2020 election, edging Cunningham in a GOP “wave” election in South Carolina.
Earlier this year, district lines were redrawn to make the first district more difficult for a Democratic challenger to capture. In fact, early polling shows the level of support for Trump in the new district could be as much as ten percentage points higher.
Can Trump leverage that support into an upset of Mace? Possibly … although the incumbent congresswoman continues to excel on the fundraising front.
Democrats have slammed South Carolina “Republicans” for gerrymandering the lines, but the truth is these congressional borders were driven by the whims of their lone representative to the U.S. Congress – majority whip Jim Clyburn.
This is a developing story … please check back for updates.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (including that Chicago Blackhawks’ lid pictured above).
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