Nancy Mace, one of The Citadel’s first two female graduates, announced Saturday at the Berkeley County GOP breakfast meeting in Goose Creek that she will challenge U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next June’s GOP primary.

“We cannot change Washington unless we change who we send to Washington,” Mace said in her announcement speech.

Mace, who grew up in Goose Creek and now lives in Charleston, is a wife, mother and small-business owner of a public relations firm. She holds a masters degree in mass communication from the University of Georgia and is the author of “In The Company of Men: A Woman at The Citadel.” She is the daughter of retired Army Brigadier General Emory Mace and educator Dr. Anne Mace.

Mace told the Post and Courier that politically, the time was right because of “frustration with people in Washington.” But she said it was her husband, Curtis Jackson, who told her to stop complaining about her problems with Washington and do something about it. And her six-year-old son, Miles, told her he wanted her to run for office.

Isle of Palms resident Linwood Yarborough said he supports Mace because “her background is something that most of us have lived.”

He said the fact that she has raised a family and runs a small business shows that she knows “the burden taxes and regulations put on small business owners.”

Allison Love, a friend of Mace’s for 15 years, said Mace is the ideal candidate because she is a true, proven leader.

“She has the fortitude to do this and do this right,” Love said.

John Steinberger, chairman of the Charleston County Republican Party, said Mace represents “what we want to see in the Republican party.”

Mace told her audience that when she was five-years-old she remembered her father taking her quail hunting. One time, he forgot their hunting dogs so it was her job to pick up the fallen birds.

“He was raising a Citadel bulldog,” she said.

Mace said when her parents dropped her off at the Citadel her father, a man of few words, gave her one piece of advice: “If you want to quit don’t call home — just put on your shoes and start walking.”

Mace would be the second official Republican challenger to Graham, who has more than $6.3 million in his campaign war chest but whose willingness to compromise with Democrats has angered some in the GOP base.

Upstate businessman Richard Cash already announced that he is in the race and state Sen. Lee Bright, one of the Legislature’s more outspoken libertarians, said he will also announce that he will run against Graham in next year’s Republican primary.

U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.,

is also up for election next year for the final two years on former Sen. Jim DeMint’s term, but Scott has drawn no announced challenger to date.

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@postandcourier.com.