Voters in the Republican primary for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district will go to the polls Tuesday to decide the political future of controversial sophomore, Republican Rep. Nancy Mace.

For the second straight cycle, the South Carolina representative — who has made headlines for bucking the GOP on abortion and, at one point, former President Donald Trump — faces a fierce primary challenge with support from key figures in her own party. Now, the one-time Trump critic has the support of the former president in the race.

In her 2022 bid, Trump backed Mace’s challenger and called Mace a “terrible person” who is “despised by almost everyone.”

At the same time, other marquee Republicans closed ranks around Mace. Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley endorsed Mace, and PACs affiliated with senior Republican leadership, including then-House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy sent her financial support.

Now, in a sign of the ever-shifting politics of the fractious GOP, it’s just the reverse: Trump has endorsed Mace, and McCarthy, who was ousted as speaker with Mace’s help, has endorsed her opponent and campaigned vigorously against her.

Mace also severed her relationship with Haley, opting to endorse Trump during the state’s presidential primary in a stunning twist. Speaker Mike Johnson issued a brief statement endorsing Mace in April and appeared alongside her at an event in May.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 29, 2023, file photo, Rep. Nancy Mace is shown at a Joint Conference Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

In this Nov. 29, 2023, file photo, Rep. Nancy Mace is shown at a Joint Conference Committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA via AP

Mace’s own comments about Trump have changed over the years. Just one day after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Mace said Trump’s “entire legacy” was “wiped out” by the siege. Earlier this year, however, Mace said “Donald Trump is the only man who can save America.”

This hotly contested congressional race in South Carolina puts on display the delicate balancing act that many Republicans in more moderate districts must pull off in the age of Trump, attempting to signal their loyalty to the party kingmaker while avoiding being labeled an extremist.

While the former president enjoys strong support in South Carolina, it’s unclear whether his endorsement will help or hurt Mace. In the state’s February presidential primary, Haley bested Trump by six points in the 1st congressional district — the state’s most moderate.

Despite Trump’s support for Mace, her lead opponent — Catherine Templeton, the state’s former director of labor, licensing, and regulation — has defied calls to acquiesce to the former president’s endorsement by dropping out of the race.

PHOTO: Former South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton speaks with an attendee at a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump, Feb. 14, 2024, in North Charleston, S.C.

Former South Carolina gubernatorial candidate Catherine Templeton speaks with an attendee at a campaign rally for former President Donald Trump, Feb. 14, 2024, in North Charleston, S.C.

Meg Kinnard/AP

While the Mace and Templeton are aligned on immigration and inflation — mainstays of both campaigns — they draw a sharp contrast on abortion, an issue that has loomed large in red-state politics since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade in June 2022, returning the matter to the states.

Mace has spoken often about her experience as a survivor of rape, at times lambasting her party for advancing hard-line restrictions. While Mace is anti-abortion, she has advocated for exceptions for rape and incest, as well as for access to birth control.

Trump said in April that abortion should be decided by the states. He has not said if he personally favors a certain number of weeks into pregnancy at which state-level bans should take effect, though he has publicly criticized a six-week ban in Florida and, more recently, talked privately about the idea of a national 16-week ban with exceptions, sources told ABC News in February.

During an unsuccessful run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018, meanwhile, Templeton reversed her opposition to a near-total state abortion ban that lacked an exception for victims of incest under pressure from anti-abortion advocates.

Still, Templeton has framed herself as the stronger conservative, echoing criticisms of her opponent for flip-flopping on Trump, abortion and other issues.

PHOTO: In this Dec. 13, 2023, file photo, Rep. Nancy Mace walks to join other members of the House Oversight Committee, at the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

In this Dec. 13, 2023, file photo, Rep. Nancy Mace walks to join other members of the House Oversight Committee, at the Capitol, in Washington, D.C.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

“We need a consistent conservative in Congress,” she said of Mace at an event last month.

Tuesday night’s election may not provide an immediate winner. In the competitive race, it’s possible no candidate will secure a majority, which would send the primary to a runoff.

While Bill Young, a veteran also challenging Mace for the nomination, is running well behind Templeton, if the margins are thin, he could prevent either frontrunner from getting more than 50%.

Another potential spoiler came at the 11th hour last week, as the Washington Post broke allegations that Mace had overused a program allowing members of Congress to reimburse some living expenses. The New York Times has since reported that the House Ethics Committee has begun a preliminary inquiry into her conduct.

ABC News’ Brittany Shepherd contributed reporting.



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