Politics & Government

1st woman to graduate from Citadel one step closer to SC House seat

State Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Berkeley.
State Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Berkeley.

Nancy Mace, famous for being the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, has won the GOP nomination for an open S.C. House seat.

Mace won a GOP primary runoff in a House district in Berkeley and Charleston counties Tuesday, defeating Mount Pleasant town councilman Mark Smith. Mace took 63 percent of the vote to Smith’s 37 percent.

“I’m truly honored,” Mace said in a statement. “The vision I shared with voters, whether it’s getting ahead of our infrastructure needs, improving roads, being a fiscal conservative, recognizing tax dollars are sacred will continue to be my message as we move forward to the General Election in January.”

Two weeks ago, Mace finished first in a four-person Republican primary, taking 49.5 percent of the vote, just short of the majority needed to avoid a runoff.

Mace will face Democrat Cindy Boatwright in the general election, scheduled for Jan. 16. Boatwright, a Mount Pleasant mental health counselor, ran unopposed for the Democratic nomination in the Republican-leaning district.

Mace made history in 1999, and a name for herself statewide, when she became the first woman to graduate from South Carolina’s formerly all-male military college.

In 1995, Shannon Faulkner of Powdersville became the first woman to enter The Citadel, after her lawsuit overturned the public college’s men-only admission policy. However, Faulkner quickly left the school.

The District 99 seat that Mace is seeking was held by Jim Merrill, the former House majority leader who resigned in September after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of misconduct in office. Merrill is one of a half-dozen legislators to have been swept up thus far in an ongoing State House corruption probe.

A Charleston real estate agent and former marketing consultant, Mace ran for office in 2014, launching a long-shot bid against incumbent Lindsey Graham for the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate. Mace won 6 percent of the vote in a seven-way primary.

In 2016, Mace was a South Carolina director of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, as was Merrill.