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Ukraine Realists Received Mixed Results in South Carolina Primaries

State of the Union: Rep. William Timmons defeated his Freedom Caucus–backed challenger.
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Tuesday’s primaries in South Carolina saw a disappointing result for advocates of foreign policy restraint, with a House Freedom Caucus–backed challenger coming very close, but ultimately failing, to displace an incumbent congressman.

In the Palmetto State’s Fourth District, which encompasses the environs of Greenville, the incumbent Rep. William Timmons narrowly defeated State Rep. Adam Morgan with 52 percent of the vote to 48 percent. 

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But over in the First District, the pro-Trump, Ukraine-skeptical incumbent Representative Nancy Mace, who had been considered a potential VP pick, comfortably defeated a challenger 57–30. Mace began lambasting the Administration in earnest in February. “The one thing that you did not hear [National Security Advisor] Jake Sullivan or Joe Biden say today or really ever is defining our mission in Ukraine. They have yet to define that mission. ... How do we get out of this?” Mace said.

Though the campaign to oust Mace (a top target of chagrinned former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy) went down, an effort to take this new line of Ukraine skepticism to the next level was also thwarted. Incumbents prevailed.

Rep. Timmons was initially very hawkish on the Ukraine issue, supporting the “Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act” (HR 6930) in 2022, and even bragging about being sanctioned by Russia for his support of Ukraine. He did, however, oppose the most recent $61 billion package for Ukraine on the grounds that the “United States should not be a disproportional backer of Ukraine compared to European nations.”

By contrast, the insurgent Morgan is a founding member of the South Carolina State Freedom Caucus, and was endorsed by conservatives such as Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Freedom Caucus Chair Rep. Bob Good (R-VA). Morgan does not advertise any foreign policy positions on his website, although he does call for universities to ban Confucius institutes. He has tweeted that he wants “not one more cent to Ukraine” amid the ongoing crisis at the American southern border.