Ms. Lindsey Graham, I expect a primary challenge in 2014

The State: South Carolina’s Home Page

Commentary by Jim Campbell

Lindsey Graham reminds me of a petulant child.  He refused to help his own constituent PFC Corey Clagett who remains wrongfully incarcerated in solitary confinement for following direct orders to kill while in Iraq. 

Graham sat in his Capitol Hill office earlier this month, pondering those questions for a moment or two, which, for the Seneca Republican, is a rhetorical eternity.

Then, he responded in typical fashion.

“I fear God,” he quipped with a laugh, easing into what sounded like the outline of a stump speech.

“My profile is — I’m conservative, not an ideologue,” Graham said.

Midway through his second term in the Senate, Graham assesses himself as better prepared now than ever before to help the nation and his state.

“I want to be a guy that Democrats can find common ground with on the issues of the day,” Graham said. “I want to do something on Social Security and Medicare. I want to find a way to get Tea Party Republicans and conservative Reagan Republicans, like myself, and some middle-of-the-road Democrats in a room to solve problems.”

Asked again whether he fears a primary fight, Graham cut to the chase.

“No, I don’t fear one; I expect one,” he said. “In politics, you have to earn these jobs, and I just feel real prepared.”

‘Graham is really an outcast’

In his first Senate re-election campaign, in 2008, Graham swamped his GOP challenger, then soundly defeated the Democratic nominee.

Now, in Myrtle Beach, Tea Party leader Joe Dugan already is marshaling activists to make sure Graham faces a formidable foe in two years.

“Graham is really an outcast,” Dugan said. “He stands out like a sore thumb in a state as conservative as South Carolina. I wish he were up for re-election this year so we could vote him out.”

Good luck with that, said Barry Wynn, a former state Republican Party chairman. Wynn — the campaign treasurer for South Carolina’s other U.S. senator, Tea Party darling Jim DeMint of Greenville — has close ties with conservative activists across the state.

“I can tell you there are some noisy people who would like to run somebody against Lindsey Graham, but they really represent a fairly small minority,” Wynn said. “My money would be on Lindsey to win any Republican Primary in the state by a landslide.”

Wynn also cited Graham’s fundraising prowess, noting many of DeMint’s biggest campaign contributors also give generously to Graham.

DeMint, the onetime Republican backbencher who has risen in stature to national conservative icon, disagrees with critics who brand Graham as a RINO — a “Republican in Name Only.”

“Lindsey has been a really great partner of mine on just about every issue — Social Security reform, tax reform, a balanced-budget amendment,” DeMint said. “He’s passionate and great at what he does.”

In a Clemson University poll last November, Graham fared reasonably well among Republican voters: Sixty-three percent approved of his performance as senator versus 23 percent who disapproved.

“If somebody’s going to tackle Lindsey, they’d better pack two lunches because he’s going to eat the first one,” said Katon Dawson of Columbia, also a former state GOP chief.

One response to “Ms. Lindsey Graham, I expect a primary challenge in 2014

  1. He should be challenged and then sent over there permanent and he can take McCain with him.

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