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Catherine Templeton
Catherine Templeton is challenging incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace. Meg Kinnard/AP

Harlan Crow Has Weighed In on Nancy Mace’s Primary

The billionaire donor and his wife both donated to Mace’s challenger in March, in another break from Trump’s endorsement list.

It appears as though Harlan Crow is experiencing buyer’s remorse — sort of. Just two years after making several political contributions to Rep. Nancy Mace’s campaign, the Dallas billionaire and real estate developer is donating to Mace’s primary challenger, Catherine Templeton.

In late March, Crow and his wife donated $3,300 each to Templeton’s campaign for South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. She is the only primary challenger Crow has donated to so far this cycle, and notably not one Donald Trump supports.

Crow’s influence over American politics has come under heightened scrutiny because of his close friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas. His political donations, meanwhile, place him apart from Trump and the generation of lawmakers the former president rallies around.

He has given to Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar, but the majority of Crow and his wife’s donations have gone to moderate Republicans, including the reelection campaigns of Tony Gonzales and Mike Lawler, two Republicans facing tough elections.

Crow did not respond to a request for comment about his donation habits. He has described himself as a center-right Republican “who believes in bipartisanship.”

Harlan Crow, George W. Bush
Harlan Crow’s friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas has raised ethics concerns around the Supreme Court. LM Otero/AP

In the past year alone, he donated to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and later Nikki Haley. He’s also consistently supported different candidates than Trump has. In the Texas 26th Republican primary, Crow supported Luisa Del Rosal, a former chief of staff to Gonzales, over the Trump-endorsed Brandon Gill. Most recently, he supported Frank LaRose in the Ohio Senate Republican primary. LaRose finished third behind the Trump-endorsed Bernie Moreno and Matt Dolan.

Just this week, the Crows co-hosted a fundraiser for Pennsylvania Senate candidate Dave McCormick in Dallas, having supported him since his 2022 primary bid against the then-Trump-endorsed Mehmet Oz. Trump has now endorsed McCormick.

Templeton, who served in Haley’s administration and ran for governor in South Carolina in 2018, fits the trend.

Templeton decided to challenge Mace shortly after Mace and seven other Republicans voted out former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in October 2023. “It was something that I couldn’t understand, how we had a conservative in our districts who had voted with AOC and Adam Schiff and 200 other Democrats against our conservative values,” Templeton said in a speech at her campaign launch party.

Her campaign manager told NOTUS they “appreciate Mr. Crow’s support.”

“He’s not the only former Mace donor to regret his contributions: 40% of our donors supported Mace in previous cycles,” Chet Martin said. “There’s a clear appetite for serious conservative results, not a television-chasing politician who flip-flops for fame.”

Crow was also a supporter of McCarthy and donated nearly $96,000 to his campaign and his Protect the House PAC as recently as June 2023.

Mace, however, has Trump’s endorsement. She called Templeton a McCarthy puppet. Brittany Martinez, a former McCarthy leadership aide and a Republican strategist, called Mace “one of the most unserious members of Congress who values TV appearances over getting actual work done” in an interview with NOTUS, referencing the time Mace wore a “scarlet letter” T-shirt after voting to oust McCarthy.

It was that “Scarlet Letter” moment that Templeton said ultimately pushed her to challenge Mace. “None of it made sense until I saw the ‘Scarlet Letter,’” Templeton said at her campaign launch.

This story has been updated to include a comment from the Templeton campaign.

Ryan Hernández is a NOTUS reporter and an Allbritton Journalism Institute fellow.