The distinction between public picture and political actuality has bedeviled the 44-year-old Mace in a number of methods as she struggles to search out her footing in Washington and win a second time period in her intently watched swing district. She’s oscillated forwards and backwards from Donald Trump backer to critic — whereas she’s trashed him in personal, in response to three former aides. On high of that, her workplace’s office tradition is dealing with new scrutiny.

Whereas she worked to elect Trump in 2016, Mace turned a fierce critic after final yr’s Capitol riot, then later embraced her partisan-warrior aspect earlier than taking a high-profile anti-Trump vote. This yr, after the previous president endorsed Mace’s main challenger, she filmed a video in entrance of Trump Tower touting herself as the one Republican who might hold Democrats from claiming her seat.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), no stranger to the label of political chameleon himself, defended the girl who challenged him from the right in 2014 as a very good match for “essentially the most aggressive district in South Carolina.”

“She’s proven the power to win,” Graham stated of Mace. “And I believe in a district like that, it’s important to have an open thoughts on points. You possibly can’t be doctrinaire. I believe she’s proven a streak of independence that’ll most likely be useful.”

However one Republican in her delegation, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), is endorsing Trump-backed Katie Arrington over her. Two others within the delegation are staying out of the race.

On high of that, a half-dozen former staffers, all talking candidly on situation of anonymity, described Mace in interviews as being so fixated on her picture that she has bother managing her workplace. That status is beginning to stick, getting mentioned in personal by some GOP colleagues, in response to 4 Home Republicans who’ve talked about her workplace to POLITICO.

A senior Mace staffer, additionally talking on situation of anonymity, stated “the primary yr in a congressional workplace is at all times difficult” however described the workplace’s stage of turnover as regular for the Hill. This senior staffer added that interns weren’t “anticipated to work outdoors of a typical 9-5 schedule” and at the moment are being paid.

“Expertise issues, and groups develop and get higher,” the Mace senior staffer stated. “At present, our workforce is working extra successfully than ever earlier than, and we look ahead to persevering with to serve the Lowcountry within the years forward.”

Graham, who stated Mace has “achieved a very good job,” has not formally endorsed her reelection bid. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) additionally stated he’d “keep impartial” in subsequent month’s main. Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) is in the identical boat, saying he’s staying out of it.

“I disagree with among the points she’s supported,” Norman stated of Mace, citing her marijuana legalization invoice and her vote to advance a felony contempt referral for Trump ally Steve Bannon over the Capitol rebellion, amongst different subjects. However former state legislator Arrington’s report, Norman added, is “unproven.”

Mace’s main race is heating up, with Trump touring to her district in March to spice up Arrington. However again on the Hill, three of the previous staffers described Mace — a highschool dropout who achieved historic standing as the primary lady to graduate from the Citadel army school — as mainly involved in “what’s horny,” her time period for political positions that may entice essentially the most media consideration on a given week.

One of many former staffers described Mace as “loopy erratic” in her dealing with of points — with an usually brief consideration span and behavior of disregarding steering on coverage debates.

“You’ll sit down in a gathering to speak about coverage and stuff,” this staffer stated, “and he or she’ll begin the assembly off by simply saying, ‘Simply so you recognize, I’m not going to fucking take heed to something happening right here.’”

The Arrington marketing campaign declined an interview request, however a spokesperson issued an announcement hitting Mace.

“To place it merely, if it doesn’t get her a particular curiosity examine or 5 minutes on MSNBC, Nancy received’t do it,” Arrington spokesperson Chris D’Anna stated in a written assertion. “When she tucked her tail between her legs to movie her notorious Trump Tower video, I hope she stopped by CNN to use for a job, she’ll want one come June 14th.”

Mace has a large struggle chest to tackle Arrington in her district, which features a lengthy stretch of the coast encompassing Charleston. And it’s an space the place Trump’s endorsement has already failed as soon as in serving to Arrington break via; former Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-S.C.) defeated her in 2018 after she received a GOP main towards then-Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), a goal of Trump’s ire.

Sanford additionally defended Mace as able to profitable her “proxy struggle” with the GOP’s pro-Trump forces. In an interview, he stated he sees the previous president’s energy waning and noticed that political capital, together with Trump’s, has a “half-life.” The previous South Carolina governor dismissed Wilson’s endorsement of Arrington as “irrelevant.”

“Clearly, he’s nonetheless a drive to be reckoned with in GOP politics, however I don’t suppose it’s in any approach a dying knell” for Mace that Trump backed her main foe, Sanford stated in an interview. “The district is getting increasingly more purple by the day.”

A number of of the previous Mace staffers stated that they have been initially drawn to Mace after she took a stand towards Trump and pro-insurrection voices inside the social gathering following final yr’s Capitol assault by backers of the then-president. However a few of these aides got here away upset.

A second former staffer recalled Mace making an unpaid intern work lengthy hours and use a private automobile to often work shifts so long as 15 hours, serving as a physique man of types.

Mace has misplaced 5 communications aides up to now this Congress, in response to three of the previous staffers, with the newest departing simply final week. (The Mace senior staffer stated the proper quantity was 4.)

Turnover of staff is hardly unusual on Capitol Hill, nor are personal allegations of poor workplace tradition. However the complaints threaten so as to add to the political troubles she’s dealing with due to her public vacillations over tips on how to deal with Trump. Nonetheless, the latest arrival of a brand new chief of employees at Mace’s workplace holds the promise of extra optimistic modifications.

Mace’s October vote in favor of a felony contempt referral for Bannon brazenly divided her colleagues. One lauded her “true grit” for taking an anti-Trump vote, however conservatives seethed. Months later, after Trump labeled her “completely horrible,” Mace’s obvious try at an olive department at Trump Tower raised extra questions amongst Republicans.

Three of the previous Mace aides stated in interviews that, inside her workplace, she was recognized to exclaim passionately about how a lot she despised Trump.

Among the former staffers interviewed contended that Mace’s method to her job modified after constituents started making it recognized they disagreed together with her forceful anti-Trump place within the wake of the Capitol siege. It doesn’t matter what she might have thought personally, in response to her former aides, Mace started softening towards Trump as she sought to learn the political local weather amongst her district’s Republicans.

At one level, to hammer residence the rightward shift in her id, indicators have been taped to the partitions asking “What would Membership for Development do?” — a reference to the influential conservative group, in response to a 3rd former aide.

Asked by CBS’ “Face the Nation” earlier this month about Arrington and whether or not Trump was nonetheless the chief of the GOP, Mace touted her fundraising benefit over her rival. She stated solely that the previous president was “given dangerous recommendation” that led to his endorsement.

Burgess Everett contributed to this report.