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Trump gets a split decision in South Carolina as Rice is beaten, while Mace survives

Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican from South Carolina, is seen at left. At right is state Rep. Russell Fry.
Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Sean Rayford/Getty Images
Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican from South Carolina, is seen at left. At right is state Rep. Russell Fry.

Updated June 14, 2022 at 11:40 PM ET

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Former President Donald Trump has gone 1-for-2 in his endorsements of challengers to incumbent members of Congress from South Carolina.

Rep. Tom Rice, one of just 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot, has been defeated in a GOP primary by a Trump-backed challenger.

According to a race call by The Associated Press, South Carolina state Rep. Russell Fry, who had Trump's endorsement, easily topped Rice, a five-term U.S. representative, giving Fry the 7th District's Republican nomination.

In the 1st District, meanwhile, GOP Rep. Nancy Mace bested her Trump-supported challenger, according to the AP.

Fry easily defeats Rice

In South Carolina, a candidate needs to get more than 50% of the vote to avoid a runoff. At the time of the AP's race call, Fry had 51.1%. Rice was at 24.6%.

Rice had refused to back down to the tirades of a former president and from his conviction that Trump is to blame for the Capitol attack.

He told NPR in February, "If we're going to have a scenario where the president can try to intimidate Congress ... we might as well have a monarchy."

Rice even doubled down and said he regretted not voting to certify the presidential election in favor of Joe Biden. That angered many voters and inspired a slew of GOP candidates, including Fry, who wanted to take Rice down. The challengers said he had betrayed the conservative district and the former president.

Trump, meantime, has called the longtime congressman a "coward" and someone "no one trusts." He even gathered supporters in March for a rally in the district Rice represents to deliver a punishing speech and again endorse Fry.

In his campaign, Rice had reminded constituents he voted with Trump more than 90% of the time and helped the former president draft the 2017 GOP tax cut bill.

Fry will face Democrat Daryl Scott in November in the strongly Republican 7th.

Mace wins in the 1st District

Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., speaks at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol Building on May 19.
Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
Getty Images
Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., speaks at a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol Building on May 19.

Mace, on the other hand, defeated former Rep. Katie Arrington outright in the 1st Congressional District Republican primary. Trump had endorsed Arrington.

At the time of the AP's race call, Mace was above the runoff threshold, at 53%.

Mace angered Trump by criticizing him in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol — though she later walked back her critical comments and — unlike Rice — didn't vote to impeach him.

Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, had the backing of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, a onetime U.N. ambassador in Trump's administration.

She'll next face Annie Andrews, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Copyright 2022 South Carolina Public Radio

Victoria Hansen is our Lowcountry connection covering the Charleston community, a city she knows well. She grew up in newspaper newsrooms and has worked as a broadcast journalist for more than 20 years. Her first reporting job brought her to Charleston where she covered local and national stories like the Susan Smith murder trial and the arrival of the Citadel’s first female cadet.

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