The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican party was well-joined in South Carolina on Thursday afternoon when U.S. congressman Joe Wilson waded into a proxy war between former U.S. president Donald Trump and his #NeverTrump antagonists in the national GOP.
And promptly drew incoming fire…
The congressional proxy war in question – one of two such battles in the Palmetto State this spring – pits first-term incumbent congresswoman Nancy Mace against Trump-endorsed challenger Katie Arrington in the state’s first congressional district (which includes the Lowcountry population centers of Beaufort, Bluffton and Charleston, S.C.).
The second proxy battle is a bit farther up the South Carolina coast in the state’s seventh district, where incumbent Tom Rice – one of the ten GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach Trump for his alleged role in inciting the January 6, 2021 rioting – is being challenged by a field of ostensibly more conservative candidates.
Among them? Trump-backed state representative Russell Fry.
The first district race has driven the headlines, though … with Mace and Arrington’s visceral hatred for each other stoking all sorts of drama.
It was into this arena that Wilson stepped on Thursday as he endorsed Arrington over Mace.
“As murderers and enemies of freedom grow emboldened by the feeble leadership of the Biden administration, Washington needs more people who understand the significant implications of a weak America on the world stage,” Wilson said in a statement provided to reporter Caitlin Byrd of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper. “That’s why I am endorsing Katie Arrington for Congress in South Carolina’s first district. Katie is a proven fighter for our conservative principles of limited government with expanded freedom which provides for a strong national defense and the safeguarding of our border.”
Wilson went on to say Arrington would be a “tireless advocate for our veterans and the military,” as well as a leader who would “make a difference working for the families of South Carolina.”
“As a native Charlestonian who organized the first teenage Republican clubs in 1964 across the Lowcountry, I am grateful to have represented Beaufort, Jasper, and Colleton in Congress, and I have a special appreciation of the first district,” Wilson continued. “I look forward to seeing Katie as its representative.”
Arrington welcomed Wilson’s endorsement.
“I could not be more honored to have the support of Representative Wilson,” she said in a statement. “(He) has been a fearless fighter for the people of South Carolina, and his work on the House Armed Services Committee has helped Veterans not only at home, but across our country. I am grateful to have his endorsement, and I look forward to working with him to advocate for the people of our great state.”
As for Mace? She came out swinging … hard.
“Joe Wilson is the reason we need term limits in Congress,” Mace’s campaign manager Austin McCubbin said in a statement from her campaign organization. “Conservative groups rate him the most liberal Republican Congressman from South Carolina. Of course he endorses the most liberal Republican in the primary, who voted for the larges tax increase in South Carolina history.”
McCubbin wasn’t done …
“It was Nancy’s opponent who leaked classified information and had her top secret security clearance suspended,” he said, a reference to this ongoing debate. “The military said Nancy’s opponent put our national security in ‘grave danger.’”
Keep it tuned to this news outlet for the latest on this race – including next month when we travel down to St. Helena Island, S.C. for a debate between Mace and Arrington.
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 and before that he was a bass player and a dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. And yes, he has LOTS of hats (but he gave them up for Lent this year).
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