originally appeared in the Washington Post
COLUMBIA, S.C. — After waiting in the morning chill for other lawmakers to speak, state Rep. Nancy Mace finally took the microphone. She was the General Assembly’s newest member, only four weeks on the job, “a baby among these folks,” she told the crowd.
She was also a proud Republican in this very red state, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college, a former campaign worker for President Trump, a fiscal conservative who championed his tax overhaul — not the kind of politician demonstrators gathered at a rally organized by liberals were accustomed to hearing.
But the words she roared into the mic set off a round of whistling, shouting and fist pumps. Like several GOP legislators who joined Democrats in stirring the crowd, Mace broke sharply with the president over his plan to offer oil and gas companies leases to drill a few miles off beaches that bring $20 billion in annual revenue to South Carolina and support 600,000 tourism jobs.
“Eight to 10 million tourists a year come down to Charleston. They don’t want to come to see oil drilling off the coast,” said Mace, who represents an area that includes the city. The former military cadet laid down a gauntlet: “Ain’t gonna happen. Not on my watch!”