Democratic congressional candidate Michael B. Moore is aiming to defeat Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) despite the possibility that the Supreme Court could side with the state legislature and reinstate a map that favors Republicans before next year’s election.
Moore told the Washington Examiner in an interview Wednesday, “We’ve developed a plan that’s not contingent upon the Supreme Court, so we’re charging [ahead] and keeping blinders on trying to execute that.”
Moore’s remarks came hours after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, a case brought by civil rights groups claiming the General Assembly illegally used race when it gerrymandered 30,000 black voters from Charleston out of the 1st Congressional District.
A lower court found the map violated the state constitution; however, the conservative-led Supreme Court appeared skeptical of that finding on Wednesday. Chief Justice John Roberts raised questions about what he described as a lack of direct evidence of discrimination.
“We have said that the burden that you’re assuming of disentangling race and politics in a situation like this is very, very difficult, but it is your burden, right?” Roberts asked Leah Aden, who appeared on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund.
Roberts continued, “And you’re trying to carry [that burden] without any direct evidence, with no alternative map, with no odd-shaped districts, which we often get in gerrymandering cases, and with a wealth of political data that you’re suggesting your friends on the other side would ignore in favor of racial data?”
The 1st District was historically red until former Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham flipped it in 2018, signaling it had become a competitive battleground.
Mace narrowly defeated Cunningham in 2020 by about 1%, but she won more handily in 2022 after the new map went into effect.
Moore, who spoke on the steps of the Supreme Court ahead of the oral arguments, said he cares “deeply about what the Supreme Court does” and “the votes that were marginalized through this process.”
But from a campaign standpoint, he said, “We’ve got a clear kind of game plan, a clear path, and we’re just out executing.”
Moore, a businessman who said his great-great-grandfather was gerrymandered out of office in the same region of South Carolina in the late 1800s, said he is aiming to avoid hyperpartisanship and name-calling that he has found to be a feature of modern Washington politics.
He said he is focused on “kitchen table issues” and believes Mace, who has drawn criticism for her frequent defections or threats of defections on high-profile votes, has become “more interested in being on TV.”
“I think she tries to nuance things,” Moore said. “And, you know, look, I also think she’s in love with being on national TV, and so she does things to sort of create buzz. The day after she voted against the speaker, she is with Matt Gaetz on Steve Bannon’s podcast, gloating. So I think she’s an extreme player.”
“I think it’s my job to try to hold her accountable,” Moore said.
Mace last week voted with seven other Republicans and all Democrats to oust Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) as House speaker. She fundraised aggressively after her vote, prompting ethics complaints and questions about her ability to raise money for her reelection next year.
Mace, for her part, conveyed in a statement that she, like Moore, would be unfazed if the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision to reject the Republican-friendly map in her district.
“Congresswoman Mace has consistently been an independent voice for the Lowcountry since she took office,” her spokesman Will Hampson said. “She will continue to deliver results for South Carolina no matter what the district looks like.”