COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Trump-backed Republican challenger has taken to South Carolina’s coastal airwaves with a “six-figure” digital and television ad buy seeking to contrast herself against incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace.
Katie Arrington's 30-second spot, provided to The Associated Press ahead of its release, features voters — as customers — seeking a “refund” on their choice of Mace because “she turned her back" on former President Donald Trump, among other characterizations.
In the final weeks of one of the year’s most closely watched congressional Republican primaries, the ad — running in a combined buy across broadcast, cable and digital platform, according to Arrington's campaign — is the race's first to directly contrast the two candidates. Arrington's other spots have focused on touting her endorsement by Trump.
In Mace's debut ad — also part of a six-figure combined television and digital buy — the congresswoman promoted her support of the construction of the U.S.-Mexico border wall, one of Trump’s signature projects. Another spot featured her endorsement from former Gov. Nikki Haley, who served as Trump's ambassador to the United Nations.
The former president has loomed large in the race since November, when he named Mace among a list of sitting House Republicans against whom he was soliciting challengers.
Mace secured her 2020 victory as South Carolina’s first Republican woman elected to Congress with Trump’s backing, but drew his ire by voting to certify President Joe Biden’s election and by making frequent television appearances blaming Trump for the Jan. 6 insurrection.
In February, Trump officially endorsed Arrington — whom he also had backed in her unsuccessful 2018 campaign for the seat — and campaigned for her a month later.
Mace's first-quarter fundraising was significantly ahead of Arrington's, although it's not known exactly how much each campaign has taken in since the end of March. Last month, Mace told AP she had raised a total of about $4.2 million during this campaign cycle.
Arrington, who entered the race in February, announced taking in $807,000 in the first quarter of this year, but most of that — $500,000 — came in the form of a personal loan from herself.
Early voting begins next week in South Carolina's primary contests. The winner of the 1st District GOP primary will face Democrat Annie Andrews in November.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.