Rep. Bob Inglis is the first to tell you that he's in trouble.
The South Carolina Republican, seeking his seventh U.S. House term, is in a donnybrook of a fight for political survival in an election year tilted against incumbent officeholders.
While Inglis can boast of a number of conservative endorsements, some of his rivals claim that he's too moderate for his upstate district, which includes Bob Jones University and is among the nation's most conservative.
Inglis has the backing of the American Conservative Union, the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
"I don't know how you get more conservative than that," Inglis told McClatchy.
Challenging Inglis in Tuesday's GOP primary are Spartanburg prosecutor Trey Gowdy, state Sen. David Thomas of Greenville, Mauldin business consultant Jim Lee and Wofford College adjunct professor Christina Jeffrey.
Inglis said he's already planning for a June 22 runoff, most likely against Gowdy.
To some analysts, that puts him in a precarious position.
"An incumbent who doesn't get 50 percent (of the primary vote) is in trouble," said Richard Quinn, a prominent Republican consultant who's advising Attorney General Henry McMaster in his gubernatorial bid.
"The incumbent is typically near his ceiling on the first vote," Quinn said. "It's very dangerous for an incumbent to be caught in a runoff."
Gowdy said Inglis' constituents are ready for a change. "A lot of folks are accepting the notion that if you want to change Washington, you have to change who you send there," Gowdy said. "Most people, certainly in the Republican primary, think this country's on the edge of a cliff. They see mounting debt and spending out of control. There's a loss of confidence in the institutions of government."
Among his high-profile stances when he's broken with other GOP lawmakers, Inglis regrets only one.
Inglis said subsequent progress in Iraq has proven that he was wrong in February 2007 when he joined just 16 other Republican lawmakers and most Democrats in voting against President George W. Bush's plan to send more troops there. "President Bush was right that we could use military force to create space for domestic decision-making by Iraqis," Inglis told McClatchy. "It's a great thing that it worked. I'm very thankful."
Inglis, however, offers no apologies for joining five other Republicans _ in favor of the House's reprimand of fellow South Carolina GOP Rep. Joe Wilson who shouted "You lie!" as President Barack Obama addressed a joint session of Congress in September.
"I just have this notion that we should apply the rules fairly, without regard to partisanship," Inglis said.
Inglis also defends his stance that a price must be placed on carbon emissions _ though he denies supporting a tax _ to stop climate change. "By putting a price on carbon, the free enterprise system can solve the national security problem (by lessening U.S. dependence on foreign oil) and create jobs," Inglis said.
Inglis opposed warrantless criminal searches and cast a decisive committee vote against a measure protecting the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
In the surest sign of a highly competitive race, Inglis, Gowdy and Thomas had spent more than $1.1 million combined through May 19, according to their campaign disclosure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.