Et tu, Nancy Mace?
The iconoclastic congresswoman from South Carolina put one of eight nails in Kevin McCarthy’s speakership — prompting a series of cascading events beyond any one person’s control and total uncertainty in the continuity of America’s government.
Mace, first elected to Congress with support to the tune of over $4 million from McCarthy’s Congressional Leadership Fund, undertook quite a heel-turn from January, where she labeled her partner-in-chaos Matt Gaetz a “fraud” to today, when she teamed up with Gaetz and every single House Democrat to jettison McCarthy, leaving the country in uncharted waters and the House without a speaker.
“It is amazing to me that we had a small group of Republicans that just allowed Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden complete control of government,” Representative Kelly Armstrong told The Spectator. And he’s not wrong: the overwhelming majority of House Republicans stood vocally with their speaker, but all it took was a few to throw everything to the wolves.
No one in Congress is surprised that Gaetz did this, nor that he was joined by rabble-rousers such as Bob Good, Matt Rosendale and Eli Crane — who, like Mace, collectively were on the receiving end of millions of dollars of air support from McCarthy-aligned groups. Mace, however, has been the target of particular ire, because in the eyes of many, she should know better. “Gaetz we expect this from; Mace is disappointing,” an aide to a moderate House Republican said.
Many of her now-former allies point out a trio of reasons that her move makes no sense: she is in the moderate, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus (for now), she flipped a purple House district and her district may get split wide open in an upcoming mid-decade redistricting battle.
The former may be solved quickly. The Republican Governance Group, which is tied to the moderate Main Street Caucus, is already working on removing her — and those close to the Problem Solvers Caucus tell us that Mace has barely ever shown up, and that she’ll likely be on the outs soon. Mace will likely not be invited back to the Problem Solvers Caucus (which some on the Hill speculate may actually cease to exist in the coming days) and will be booted from the moderate Tuesday Group “ASAP,” we’re told.
But to Mace, that’s likely fine, her critics would say. “The most dangerous place in Washington is between Mace and a TV camera,” one Republican told us. “Nancy Mace only cares about making a name for herself,” another added. “She flip-flops more than Nikki Haley. No backbone.”
Many were furious at Mace, but no one was on the receiving end of more ire than Gaetz, who many believe orchestrated this whole plan to set the stage for his seemingly-inevitable run for governor of Florida.
“Matt Gaetz is not acting like a Republican and he’s shown he’s about as far away from a conservative as you can get,” Representative Tim Walberg said, citing Gaetz’s overt collaboration with Democrats to oust McCarthy, and pointing out he has “been voting with Democrats much of the past few months, even blocking appropriations bills from reaching the point of open amendments and debate.”
To many, what transpired today is a symptom of a bigger problem at play within the Republican Party. Many observers point out the broken incentive structure. During the brawl itself, Representative Garret Graves forcefully called Gaetz out for fundraising throughout the imbroglio; immediately after it ended, Mace joined in capitalizing on the chaos, sending a typo-laden email asking for money. “These people toppled a king,” a GOP fundraiser told us. It makes sense that they’ll capitalize on it. But for those who viewed keeping McCarthy as the responsible move, there are fewer viral tweets to post, fewer text messages to send, and a much weaker echo chamber than what Gaetz and co. have marshaled.
“If anything, this exercise is showing the conservative wing of the Republican Party who are interested in results and points on the board that they need to stop ceding the airwaves and the online discussion to the fabulists who would rather fundraise than secure the border,” one veteran GOP communicator lamented.
As for what’s next, no one really knows. “We are so fucked,” one staffer said. A longtime Hill operator’s takeaway was simple: “I don’t care anymore.”