South Carolina’s GOP Rep. Nancy Mace Says She’s Trying to Change Her Party
It was just after Representative Nancy Mace, Republican of South Carolina, had fired off a blunt text to the No. 3 House G.O.P. leader — featuring two f-bombs and four demands that needed to be met to gain her vote for the party’s debt limit plan — that she experienced a momentary flash of dread.
“Now I’ll look like a flip-flopper,” Ms. Mace worried aloud.
Speaker Kevin McCarthy was planning within hours to hold a vote on his proposal to lift the debt ceiling for a year in exchange for spending cuts and policy changes, and Ms. Mace had just published an op-ed declaring herself a hard no. Now the second-term congresswoman from a swing district, who had already established something of a reputation for publicly breaking with her party but ultimately falling in line behind its policies, was privately negotiating her way to yes.
Ms. Mace would, in fact, vote for the bill after meeting with Mr. McCarthy and extracting several promises from him, including to hold future votes on two of her top priorities: addressing gun violence and women’s issues related to contraceptives and adoption. She anticipated criticism for the turnabout, but consoled herself with the fact that she had leveraged her vote to force her party to take on issues she cared about.
“This is a way I can drive the debate,” she said as she walked back to her office. “It’s a way of using my position to push those issues.”
It was a typical day for Ms. Mace, 45, who represents Charleston and the Lowcountry along South Carolina’s coast, and whose political profile — she is a fiscal conservative but leans toward the center on some social issues — puts her at odds with the hard-right Republicans who now dominate the House.