Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-NC) is facing a hard-right challenger in her Republican primary this year, and this one is personal.
POLITICO reports that Dan Hanlon, a former Trump aide who served as Rep. Mace’s chief of staff until late last month, has been circling the wagons among allies and prospective donors as he considers campaigning to unseat his former boss. Two Republicans with direct knowledge of Hanlon’s activities confirmed the details on the condition of anonymity.
Hanlon climbed the ladder in Mace’s office, quickly rising to become her top deputy following her 2022 reelection. While it is unknown why he is considering a challenge, Republican allies of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy indicated that the machinations may have something to do with her vote to strip him of his gavel last year.
After Rep. Mace joined seven other Republican colleagues to defenestrate McCarthy, the California Republican called Hanlon and demanded to know “where have I not kept my word”.
“[The] Chief of staff said, ‘You have kept your word, 100 percent,’” McCarthy said at the time. “Her chief of staff told all of us, we have kept every single one of our words. And he said he’s told her that too.”
Mace defended her vote at the time, saying McCarthy hadn’t been truthful with her about his intentions to support conservative priorities as Speaker.
Hanlon, who has until March 30th to file his intention to run, did not go quietly, according to witnesses who saw him get into a feisty exchange with his replacement on his final day. According to some present, Capitol Police were called after Hanlon returned to give back his keys and other office-related items.
One of the Republicans familiar with Hanlon’s plans added that they thought other former aides to Mace would support his candidacy, a sign of the growing chasm between the congresswoman and her staff. Adding to the controversy is Hanlon’s past work with the Trump administration.
However, where the internecine battle will fall on former President Donald Trump’s radar remains to be seen. The Republican leader has previously congratulated Mace on winning her past Republican primaries, though insiders have heard her trash Trump in private. Whether Hanlon can convince the 45th president that his former boss is weak in the MAGA knees will be a fascinating narrative within the 2024 cycle.