Facing Trump-backed foe, SC’s Tom Rice adds to war chest

U.S. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina brought in nearly $342,000 during the first quarter of this year, giving the Republican a war chest of $2 million as he tries to stave off a slew of primary challengers, including one with the backing of former President Donald Trump.

Overall, Rice has raised $1.6 million this campaign cycle and has $2 million total on hand, according to figures provided Thursday to The Associated Press.

Seeking his sixth term, Rice is one of two sitting South Carolina Republicans facing Trump-backed challengers in the June 14 primary. Last week, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace told AP that she had raised nearly $1 million in the weeks following Trump’s endorsement of former state Rep. Katie Arrington, one of Mace’s GOP challengers.

In the 7th District, Trump has endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry against Rice, who drew the former president’s scorn for supporting his second impeachment in the aftermath of the violent Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection ignited by the then-president. That vote, Rice told AP a day later, “hurts my heart” to cast.

Long a reliable backer of Trump, who campaigned with him, Rice voted 94% of the time in favor of Trump-backed legislation, according to FiveThirtyEight — the highest percentage among South Carolina’s delegation at that time. But Rice said he decided to back impeachment after seeing what he characterized as Trump’s inaction during the riot.

Since then, Republicans have declared their displeasure with Rice, who has represented the 7th District since its creation in 2012. The South Carolina GOP formally censured him to show disapproval over his vote, a step also taken by party committees across the country to punish many of the 10 House Republicans who supported Trump’s impeachment.

Earlier this year, Rice told AP in an interview that he stood by his vote, which he said is rarely mentioned when he meets with constituents and voters.

“What he’s saying is that violence in the name of politics is OK, and I don’t believe in political violence,” Rice said, of Trump’s comments about Jan. 6. “I think that when the president continues to say things like that, his influence continues to wane.”

In March, Trump held a campaign rally in South Carolina on behalf of Arrington and Fry.

“You currently have two atrocious RINOs, they’re bad people, in the House who went to Washington, sold you out, and partnered with the Democrats to stab the Republican Party and frankly to stab our country in the back,” Trump said, of Mace and Rice, using the acronym for “Republican in name only.”

“He is respected by no one,” Trump said of Rice, whom he called “a disaster” who is “laughed at in Washington.”

Mace, Trump said, is “crazy” and “a terrible person” who “has no idea what she’s doing,” drawing loud boos from the crowd.

Most of Rice’s first-quarter haul — $315,700, or 92% — came after Trump’s Feb. 1 endorsement of Fry, according to Rice’s campaign.

Fry has not released his first-quarter figures. As of the end of last year, he had raised about $351,000 total, according to federal records.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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