When South Carolina first district congresswoman Nancy Mace spoke out against former U.S. president Donald Trump in 2021, it ensured that she would face a ‘Make America Great Again’ opponent in 2022. And when Mace took on the leader of the “Republican” establishment in Washington, D.C. last year, it guaranteed she would face a centrist GOP rival in 2024.
The second-term lawmaker – who has a mile-wide independent streak – successfully defeated her MAGA rival during the last primary election en route to a landslide win against a well-funded Democrat. Now, Mace is preparing for a fight from the middle in the upcoming election – although it is not immediately clear who will emerge as her top centrist challenger.
News broke last week that Mace’s former chief of staff, Dan Hanlon, was considering running against his ex-boss. Hanlon’s prospective bid is widely viewed as being puppeteered by former House speaker Kevin McCarthy, whom Mace voted against last fall.
But who will be the vehicle for this attempted cancellation?
As I reported a month ago, voters in the first district recently received a “push poll” – or a survey intended to spread messages (both positive and negative) about officeholders or political candidates. That poll touted two candidates: Former S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) director Catherine Templeton and New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) executive Joseph Semsar.
While Semsar has yet to publicly address the speculation surrounding his prospective candidacy, Templeton made her first public comments regarding her prospective bid earlier this week. According to our sources, the Mount Pleasant businesswoman told a meeting of Beaufort County Republicans she was “strongly considering” challenging Mace in the 2024.
Templeton ran for governor of South Carolina in 2018 – finishing third in the GOP primary behind incumbent Henry McMaster and Upstate businessman John Warren. Prior to that, she served as director of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and director of the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (SCLLR) under former governor Nikki Haley.
Most recently, she served as co-founder and ex-president of U.S. Brick.
Will Templeton run?
The filing period for partisan primary races in South Carolina begins at 12:00 p.m. EST on March 16, 2024 and closes on April 1, 2024. Partisan primary races will be held on June 11, 2024, and if no candidate receives a majority of ballots in a given race, a runoff election will be held two weeks later – on June 25, 2024.
Mace isn’t the only incumbent likely to face a tough test this spring. Upstate “Republican” William Timmons is facing a credible challenge from S.C. Freedom Caucus chairman Adam Morgan. Meanwhile, third district congressman Jeff Duncan averted a difficult primary campaign by declaring earlier this month that he would not seek another term in office. The race to replace him is already well-joined, meaning there will be competitive races in at least three of the state’s six GOP-held congressional districts in June.
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 guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.
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