Senate Candidate Analysis: Nancy Mace

Nancy Mace Senate Candidate

Next up in my series of Senate candidate analyses: Nancy Mace! As a reminder, this series is based on my post from September outlining the criteria needed in an effective Graham challenger. You can read the first post in the series here.

1. Prior political victories – “F”

Nancy Mace is a first-time candidate and has never served in elected office before. She has no name recognition to speak of, and so far she doesn’t appear to be gaining much traction.

From what I can see, Mace isn’t running a bad campaign, as far as organization goes (she is one of the only candidates running tv ads), but she appears unprepared to grapple with the tough questions and issues thrown at Senate candidates, as shown at the Tea Party Convention forum. And accordingly, she appears to try to avoid as many questions as possible. I asked to interview her for this post, and she declined.

This is one reason why it’s important to have served in office before running against a candidate like Graham. Previous experience in both campaigning and legislating would have gone a long way to prepare her to handle the ruthless questions of the Senate campaign trail. As it is, I’m afraid that if she goes to the runoff, Graham is going to make hash of her.

However, the deeper problem here is that we don’t really know what Mace actually believes. Worse, there is a possibility that Mace herself doesn’t know what she believes on a number of these issues. And since she hasn’t served before, there’s no voting record to point to. In light of that and her inability to handle tough questions, her lack of experience is a huge liability.

2. Broad support base – “B-“

This is probably one of the hardest points to gauge, and I welcome your perspective on this in the comments.

I suspect that Mace’s main constituency is the Citadel community. Otherwise, her appeal is pretty general: she’s not exclusively “the Christian candidate”, “the homeschool candidate”, “the establishment candidate”, “the military candidate”, etc.

However, Mace appears to me to be struggling to differentiate herself from the other candidates, and I’m not hearing a lot of focus in her message. From a marketing perspective, lack of focus in the message often comes from having an undefined audience.

3. Enemies – “A”

Mace doesn’t shy away from attacking Graham’s record, and I don’t hear her mollycoddling him. She is outspoken on the need for reform in DC and the need for conservative leadership. She drops names like “Ted Cruz,” “Rand Paul,” and “Mike Lee.” And, she praises Jim DeMint.

All this points to the conclusion that she’s aligning herself with the ultra-Constitutional conservative crowd, and will therefore have all the right enemies.

4. Fundraising ability – “A”

 According to the last fundraising report, Mace had raised $256,332 by the end of 2013. That’s a pile of cash! And unless I’m mistaken, that’s all actual fundraising (vs. candidate loans/donations).

Of course, it’s a mere drop in the bucket compared to Graham’s $7 million, but she doesn’t need to raise nearly that much to win. She just needs enough to get her message out. So far, Mace is far and away the best in the field on this point.

5. Humility – “D”

Nancy Mace’s closing statement in the Tea Party Convention Senate forum earlier this year could be summed up as “Vote for meeeeeeeee!” She was the only candidate who didn’t state at some point in the whole forum how much better any of the candidates would be than Graham, or praise her opponents in any way.

One of the biggest marks of humility in a candidate is a willingness to see someone else do the job, as long as the job gets done. I was really impressed when four of the other candidates signed a pledge together to support whoever makes the runoff against Graham. But Mace didn’t sign it. Why?

The tone of her campaign has been more about her than about the reasons she is running. This begs the question in my mind: why IS she running? Is it to be somebody, or to do something? We can’t see hearts, but we can judge a tree by its fruit. And I am troubled by the fruit I’m seeing.

6. A Clean Record – “D”

The skeleton in Mace’s closet is her association with the less-than-reputable blog FITSNews.com.

During the 2008 gubernatorial primary FITSNews’ owner and editor, Will Folks, released a series of political hit pieces on his blog against Nikki Haley in what was evidently a last-minute effort to torpedo her campaign. After the initial claim of an illicit affair with Haley, Folks milked the publicity for all it was worth, issuing sensational posts and teasers but never producing the evidence he claimed to have.

Not only was FITSNews a client of Mace’s, but she was actually co-owner of FITSNews during that period, even issuing a statement on Will Folks’ behalf once.

Her defense is that FITSNews was just another client to whom she provided advertising, marketing, search engine optimization, website design and programming services. They couldn’t pay completely in cash, so they gave her equity in the business instead (not an uncommon arrangement in that industry). Both Will Folks and Nancy Mace state that she had nothing to do with the editorial content of the site. You can read her whole explanation here.

The fact is, though, I gained my own marketing experience working for a company that routinely turned clients down when their message went against our beliefs. When you provide marketing services to a website, you are trying to convince people to use that website. How much more explicit an endorsement do you want? I have zero tolerance for anyone who will work for a sleazy site like FITSNews and hope to keep a good name.

Will this hurt Mace? I don’t know. I haven’t heard that much noise about it. But it is definitely something that can be used against her, and her defense isn’t good enough to put the attacks to rest if and when they come.

7. Fortitude and Endurance – “A+”

Mace gets an A+ on this one. She is, of course, the first female graduate of the Citadel, but I had no idea what that entailed until I reviewed her book In the Company of Men: A Woman at the CitadelTo say that it took fortitude and endurance for her to graduate from the Citadel is a gross understatement.

Nancy Mace has grit; no question about it. If she drops out before the primary, it will be a strategic decision, not a cop-out. And as she comes from a background where attacks on a family member were the norm, I am not worried about that side of it either.

Conclusion

There are three main reasons I can’t support Nancy Mace for Senate:

1. I am not convinced that she is in it for the right reasons. Overeagerness in seeking political office, minus the characteristics of the right motives (passion, education on the issues, preparation, humility, etc.) sets off all kinds of red flags. We have too many politicians in office now who are in it for themselves, and I don’t want to elect another one.

2. Her affiliation with FITSNews is very concerning to me. At best, she ignored the sleazy goings-on of that blog both as marketer and as co-owner. How do we know she won’t continue to separate ethics from business in Washington?

3. She completely lacks the experience to do the job (and the voting record to prove she’ll do it well).

If, sometime in the future, she can satisfactorily deal with the first two reasons, then I think she has political potential. For this election, however, I will not be supporting Nancy Mace.

What do you think? Does Nancy Mace meet the criteria?

2 Responses to “Senate Candidate Analysis: Nancy Mace”

  1. I caught Mace’s interview on Glen Beck back in the fall. Her lack of ability to explain her stance on issues and answer follow-up questions from Beck was painful to listen to. It seemed like she hadn’t fully concluded what she believes on some issues. When I heard her speak, it sounded like she was reading from talking points

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