The polls have closed in South Carolina, where two House Republicans targeted by former President Donald Trump are facing primary challenges in contests grabbing national attention.
Five-term Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., was one of just ten House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump on charges that he fueled the deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol led by right-wing extremists and other Trump supporters aiming to disrupt congressional certification of now-President Biden’s Election College victory in the 2020 election.
Rice, a self-described “Chamber of Commerce” Republican, has leaned into his impeachment vote as he’s faced off from half a dozen primary challengers.
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“Republicans are supposed to protect the Constitution. We take an oath to protect the Constitution, not a man,” Rice emphasized in an interview with Fox News Digital on the eve of the primary. “And so what I did was take a conservative vote. If you want a conservative, I’m the guy.”
FACING PRIMARY CHALLENGE OVER HIS IMPEACHMENT VOTE, SOUTH CAROLINA’S RICE SAYS HE ‘UPHELD’ CONSTITUTION
One of those challengers, state Rep. Russell Fry, enjoys the backing and support of the former president.
Fry told Fox News he wouldn’t be challenging Rice if the congressman hadn’t voted for impeachment, adding “I think the impeachment is the big elephant in the room and the voters are incredibly frustrated by that.”
The solidly red district, which covers the northeast corner of South Carolina and includes the Myrtle Beach metropolitan area, known as the Grand Strand, and the interior Pee Dee region, is Trump country.
With a crowded field of candidates, it’s probable no candidate will top 50% and that Rice and Fry will most likely face off again in a runoff election in two weeks.
REP. NANCY MACE FACES TRUMP-BACKED PRIMARY CHALLENGE IN SOUTH CAROLINA
That’s not the case in the neighboring First Congressional District — a key general election swing seat which includes much of coastal South Carolina including the fast-growing suburbs surrounding the city of Charleston — where first-term Rep. Nancy Mace is facing a single primary challenge from former state lawmaker Katie Arrington, who is backed by Trump.
Mace was one of the earliest supporters of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. But while Mace didn’t vote to impeach, she did publicly criticize Trump after the storming of the Capitol, saying he “put all of our lives at risk.”.
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Even though Trump’s targeting her, Mace is spotlighting her MAGA credentials.
“I’m the only candidate in this race that supports America First policies. We have a lot that we can agree on as Americans, as conservatives, as Republicans, no matter what brand of Republican you are in our country. I put our country first,” Mace told Fox News.
But Arrington charges that Mace is “not a conservative. That’s why I am running. She turned her back on us in the district. She turned her back on Donald J. Trump.”