WASHINGTON (AP) — Donald Trump notched a significant victory in South Carolina on Tuesday, where his preferred candidate easily ousted five-term Rep. Tom Rice, the first Republican to be booted from office after voting to impeach the former president last year. But another high-profile GOP target of Trump, Rep. Nancy Mace, managed to hold back a challenger.
With polls still open in Nevada, a critical Senate race could give Trump another chance to add to his endorsement record.
Takeaways as results trickle in from the latest round of primary elections:
SPLIT DECISION IN SOUTH CAROLINA
Rice and Mace, a fellow South Carolinian, have been objects of Trump’s anger ever since a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of President Joe Biden's win.
Their transgressions? Mace stated on national TV that Trump’s “entire legacy was wiped out” by the attack, while Rice became an apostate for joining a small group of Republicans who voted with Democrats in favor of Trump’s second impeachment.
Voters ultimately rendered different judgments on the duo, reflecting a split within the GOP about how to move forward from the Trump era. Rice's largely rural district is representative of Trump's America, where crossing the former president carries a steep cost. Even as Trump railed against both lawmakers, he chose to hold a rally in Rice's district earlier this year.
That's because Mace's district, which centers on Charleston, is full of the type of moderate suburban voters who fled the GOP under Trump. It is one of the few districts in an overall red state where Democrats have been even moderately competitive in congressional races.
The results demonstrate that the Trump factor can't be underestimated in solidly Republican territory, a potential warning sign to Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who also voted for the second impeachment and has helped lead the House panel investigating the Jan. 6 attack. She's facing a competitive primary in August from a Trump-backed challenger.
FROM SOUTH CAROLINA TO THE WHITE HOUSE?
Also in South Carolina, Republican Tim Scott coasted to an easy and unopposed primary win Tuesday for what he says will be his last term in the Senate. But another state is also on his mind — the presidential proving ground of Iowa.
It's become an article of faith that there are no “accidental” trips to Iowa by ambitious politicians. And Scott, the Senate’s sole Black Republican, has made several visits, including one last week.
He certainly has the money to contend. As he campaigned for reelection to the Senate, Scott amassed a jaw-dropping $42 million. That's more than double the $15.7 million average cost of a winning Senate campaign in the 2018 midterms. It's also more than enough to launch a Republican presidential campaign in 2024.
Even before his recent appearance at an Iowa Republican Party event, Scott has been raising his profile. He spoke at the 2020 Republican National Convention and delivered the Republican response to President Joe Biden’s first joint congressional address. He's also visited New Hampshire, another early-voting presidential state, and delivered a speech at the Reagan Presidential Library, another frequent stop for Republicans eyeing the White House.