Nancy Mace, the first female to graduate from the Citadel Corps of Cadets, said Monday she will run for the state House seat that opened after Rep. Jim Merrill's resignation this month.
The commercial real estate agent becomes the third candidate seeking the Republican nomination for the seat vacated as part of Merrill pleading guilty to a political corruption charge.
Mace has built some political experience in recent years. She was South Carolina coalitions and social media director for Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, and she ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2014. She also owned a marketing firm whose clients included then-U.S. Reps. Tim Scott and Mick Mulvaney and state senators.
She is touting herself like Trump as someone with business experience who can challenge the status quo in politics. Mace's campaign website includes a photo of her and Trump together.
"I’ve got experience in business and politics, and I can tell you this — we desperately need more businesspeople and fewer politicians at the Statehouse," Mace said in a statement. "Whether we’re talking taxes, infrastructure, education, the state pension fund or this latest mess with the nuclear plant, I just don’t see the oversight or accountability.
"Not only are many elected officials in Columbia failing to improve our lot in life, they are failing to recognize the underlying problems with our current system — choosing the easy answer of ‘more money’ over the hard work of real reform."
Mace joins Shawn Pinkston, a Daniel Island attorney, and Mark Smith, a Mount Pleasant town councilman, in running for the District 99 Republican nomination. Cindy Boatwright, a mental health counselor from Rivertowne, is the only Democrat to declare so far.
Filing ends Saturday for the seat that covers parts of East Cooper, Daniel Island and Berkeley County. Primaries will be held on Nov. 14 with a special election on Jan. 16, shortly after the new legislative session starts.