Republican U.S. Senate candidate Nancy Mace opened her state campaign headquarters Monday on Daniel Island by accusing GOP incumbent Lindsey Graham of being too liberal to represent South Carolina.
"The only way we're going to change Washington is if we change who we send to Washington," Mace said. "And that's why I'm in this race."
Mace, 36, is one of at least five Republicans looking to knock off Graham in the GOP primary.
She pointed to his votes for President Obama's Supreme Court nominees and what she called Graham's lax view of addressing illegal immigration as among the reasons he should be replaced.
She also noted that only two people have held the Senate seat she is seeking in the last 60 years. They are Graham, who went to the Senate in 2002, and Republican Strom Thurmond, who held the seat for 48 years prior to his retirement.
"We need new leadership, we need new voices," said Mace, a Berkeley County businesswoman who is also the first female graduate of The Citadel's Corps of Cadets.
Graham's campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
About 40 Mace family members, friends and backers were on hand at the opening of the office, which is at 295 Seven Farms Drive, Suite A. Among the attendees was supporter John Watkins, who said he is supporting Mace for her conservative credentials. He accused Graham of not being a Republican.
"I don't mind that he's running, but he should be recognized as the Democrat that he is," Watkins said.
Also challenging Graham in the June 10 primary are state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, Upstate businessman Richard Cash and Columbia area pastor Det Bowers.
Dave Feliciano, a recently retired Spartanburg police officer, also has announced his intent to run in the GOP primary. Efforts to reach him Monday were unsuccessful.
Mace also conceded she is far behind in Senate race fundraising, asking the crowd to help with what they can.
"A little bit of gas money will go a long way," she said, adding that every little bit helps, "whether it's $5 or $500 or more."
Graham has more than $7.6 million to spend on his re-election. Mace called it a "living room versus the lobby kind of race."