GOP unit? Some seek reconciliation after difficult primaries

CHARLESTON, SC (AP) — Two days after losing a bitter primaries to a rival she once considered “sold out” because she occasionally worked with Democrats, Katie Arrington appeared at a “unit meeting” to urge Republicans in South Carolina to come together and Rep. Nancy Mace in the fall general election.

Republicans, Arrington said, “can fight like banshees in the house, But once we walk out that door, it’s one team, one fight.”

The cordial tone stood out in a Republican Party increasingly defined by an absolutist approach to politics. Former President Donald Trumpwho supported Arrington, once refused to back his GOP rivals if they topped the 2016 presidential primaries. Since then, the party’s mindset to win at all costs has only deepened as every nod to compromise is rejected.

sen. John Cornynwas booed, for example Texas Republican Convention after working with Democrats last week on modest changes to gun laws following a school massacre in the state last month. Eric Greitens, a GOP Senate candidate in Missouri, released an ad this week, he is pictured with a gun as he goes “hunting” for so-called RINOs, which stands for Republicans In Name Only. The video was so graphic that Facebook removed it and Twitter prevented it from being shared.

That’s what made the South Carolina scene so remarkable. Aware that the coastal congressional district is one of the few places in the state where Democrats have been competitive, Republicans said it was important to get past the party’s internal divisions.

“We must be committed to a selected candidate that most people wanted and united in,” said Roger O’Sullivan, a Mount Pleasant retiree who had voted for Arrington but will support Mace in the future. is going to happen tonight, but it definitely has to happen in November.”

Charleston-area voter JoAnne Knapp also expressed his optimism about the Republicans coming together in the 1st district, even if they don’t always agree.

“It’s a kind of marriage,” Knapp said. “If you remain steadfast in your ways, it will not last long.”

Mace has angered many Republicans with her criticism of Trump, especially after he sparked the January 6 U.S. Capitol uprising. The violence, which unfolded during Mace’s first week in office, undermined Trump’s “whole legacy,” she said at the time. And while she is a reliable conservative voice in Congress, she has occasionally worked with Democrats on issues such as advocating for the LGBTQ community, legalizing marijuana, and strengthening cybersecurity infrastructure.

Charleston County Republican Chairman Maurice Washington acknowledged that “people are still very passionate” about the GOP’s direction and said he was “optimistic” that the party could unite against Democrat Annie Andrews in the fall.

“We need to rid the party of ‘old guard, new guard’ and get rid of that term ‘RINOs’,” Washington said, the nickname for those not seen by some as true conservatives. “It’s not about unity, it’s about trust. And unless we bridge that confidence gap, along with the unity gap, we won’t be successful. … But this is a good start.”

Outside of South Carolina, other Republicans have made some effort to bring the party together after a difficult primary. After a solid defeat in the Georgian GOP contest for governor last month, the Trump-backed David Perdue said he trusted voters and would be “damned sure” that Republicans beat Democrat? Stacey Abrams in the general election.

But some GOP efforts to encourage reconciliation have not always gone as planned. At an event last month designed to rally Republicans around the party’s candidate for governor in Nebraska, the Trump-backed nominee in the race, Charles Herbster, made only a brief appearance and left without revealing the winner, Jim Pillen. supports.

And earlier this week in the Alabama Senate, Rep. Mo Brooks acknowledged that the “voters have spoken” in choosing Katie Britt as the GOP nominee. But, he added, “they may not have spoken wisely.”

And even in South Carolina, Arrington struck a sharper note a day after the unity event. She enlisted a radio show in Charleston to swear that while she is “all for party unity” and would work to secure Mace’s reelection, she would also “gather” her supporters to impress Mace with their stance that she needs to deviate from reconciliation with the Democrats.

“The only way to hold her accountable is to stay with her,” Arrington said.

“I’m going to be Nancy Mace’s worst nightmare,” she continued. “She will have to understand that we will not be complacent. …I want a Republican to be successful, but I want a conservative Republican to be successful.”

Meg Kinnard can be reached at:

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