Mace declared victory at a press conference in front of the Waffle House where she used to work | Credit: Sam Spence

State Rep. Nancy Mace earned a narrow victory in the 1st Congressional District, a win for Republicans that unseats first-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham, one of two Democrats in South Carolina’s Washington delegation.

The Associated Press called the race for Mace just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, but due to a printer error, vote-counting in Dorchester County continued until Thursday afternoon. With 100% of the votes tabulated by state Election Commission, Mace won with 50.58% of the vote to Cunningham’s 49.32%. In all, nearly 426,000 people voted in the election.

Standing outside a Waffle House in Ladson off College Park Road, Mace declared victory at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“I’m deeply humbled that the voters of South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District had the faith, the trust and the confidence in us and in me to lead the Lowcountry from here forward. My job starts today,” she said.

Cunningham will hold a press conference Friday morning at the Customs House downtown where he announced his candidacy in 2018.

Mace headed into election day as the underdog according to political handicappers and she trailed Cunningham in fundraising. Both the Cook Political Report and the University of Virginia Center for Politics tagged SC-1 as leaning Democratic. Cunningham handily bested Mace’s fundraising haul, according to mid-October reports to the Federal Election Commission: Mace reported $3.88 million in total spending, while Cunningham reported spending $6.11 million.

The 1st District was reliably Republican before Cunningham’s own upset victor in 2018, which ended a 40-year GOP hold on the Charleston-anchored congressional seat. Mace will be the second woman elected to Congress from South Carolina, and the first in nearly 80 years.

Mace’s victory coincided with President Donald Trump’s solid performance in South Carolina, where he slightly outpaced his 2016 showing in the state by earning 55.05% support compared to 54.94% four years ago.

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