Graham draws potential primary challenger in South Carolina
February 4th, 2013
12:06 PM ET
1 year ago

Graham draws potential primary challenger in South Carolina

(CNN) - South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a maverick Republican hailing from a conservative state, has long been considered vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2014.

Several prominent names in Palmetto State GOP politics have passed on taking on Graham next year, but it now appears he may have a serious opponent.

Saying that Graham has betrayed a number of conservative principles, state Sen. Lee Bright told CNN Monday that he is still in the process of making a decision, but the chances of him entering the Senate race are "definitely better than 50 percent."

"I was a huge fan of Lindsey's for the six years he was in Congress," Bright said in a phone interview. "Since he got into the Senate he has gone off the reservation in terms of the conservative ideals I believe in. I don't feel like that can go unchallenged."

Bright, who has represented Spartanburg in the state Senate for four years, called himself a "liberty-minded candidate" with a "bulletproof voting record." He has been regularly backed by the South Carolina Club for Growth since his first election in 2008.

His conservative posture has also been the subject of some criticism, especially when he proposed in 2011 that South Carolina examine creating its own currency.

"If folks lose faith in the dollar, we need to have some kind of backup," he said at the time.

Though he said he still has a few months to make up his mind, he said he has received encouragement from conservative groups inside and outside the state to take on Graham.

Bright's intentions were first reported Monday by FITSNews.com, a conservative web site in Columbia. In December, the Charleston Post and Courier reported that Bright was calling potential donors about a possible run.

"There is a long list people who I wanted to have a chat before I do anything official, and I want top honor that," he said when pressed on when he will make an announcement.

At the same time, he sounded like a candidate-in-waiting.

"Right now it's a battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and I think the lines are clearly drawn," Bright said. "You have people like Ted Cruz and Rand Paul on one side, and people like Graham and Mitch McConnell on the other."

Bright also took a swipe at the immigration reform plan that Graham has taken a lead on, along with several other senators in both parties.

"It still appears to be amnesty," he said. "We need to reach out to Hispanics and we need their support, but I am not sure that's the way to go about it. I understand about immigration. I am Irish, German and Cherokee. So I appreciate that. But there also needs to be some semblance of the culture. We need a common language ... I am going to look at the bill but I want to make sure that it's not an attempt to buy votes for the Republican Party."


Filed under: Lindsey Graham • South Carolina
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I'd rather have Sen. Graham hold that seat than it be taken by some right wing radical who doesn't know the meaning of the word compromise.

    February 4, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    There they go again, doubling down on stupid party. Silly rabbits.
    Is it too early to predict that Democrats will enjoy a filibuster proof Senate majority after 2016?

    February 4, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    from the article:

    "It still appears to be amnesty," he [Lee Bright] said. "We need to reach out to Hispanics and we need their support, but I am not sure that's the way to go about it. I understand about immigration. ...... "
    ------------
    You have to love these people who think that they can hide the fact that they love the status quo. They are the ones who despise and criticize any legislation that changes anything. They are marked by the fact that they *never* propose any solutions of their own. They just condemn any proposal that changes as being wrong in some fashion.

    February 4, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  4. LIP

    Never going to happen...you can dream all you want, but it's never going to happen. Once the people are sick of more taxes and no jobs, then the Republicans will take the senate again.

    February 4, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  5. California Gary

    By the way.......where are all those folks who claimed last week that Obama lied when he said he shoots skeet? Now that a picture was published of him doing that very thing.......are they going to claim his head was photoshopped onto someone else's body? Or that he was actually holding a broom stick and they photoshopped in a shotgun? Which will it be guys?

    February 4, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  6. BigTBone

    Please, get someone with a believable position for the 21st century.

    The bar is set so low by Repubs in SC, anyone who has a triple digit IQ and can stay off the Appalachian Trail qualifies.

    Our citizens are so bibled up and educationally dumbed down, they wouldn't vote for jesus if he had a (d) next to his name.

    February 4, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. Ancient Texan

    Four more years of the disaster that was the first four years will change the power in the Senate.

    February 4, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. carlos

    I am Irish, German and Cherokee....a mutt......and then he mentions rowdy paul and imbecile cruz....done !!!!!

    as for LIP.....dream on dream on

    February 4, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  9. J'cincinnati'Redd

    We need a third party. The far right will never learn.how long or should i say how far do we have to fall until we understand that our party is getting older and more stupid by the year.

    February 4, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  10. BlueAlliance

    Graham and McCain need to go. They are angry bitter old men just out to obstruct the president's agenda. I am so sick of the media always decribing them as 'mavericks' and inviting them on the sunday morning political shows as 'experts' in their field. Whenever I see them now I switch channels and so do all of my friends. Enough is enough! Voters please vote them out.....they are rabid and destructive to our country.

    February 4, 2013 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    LIP wrote:

    Never going to happen...you can dream all you want, but it's never going to happen. Once the people are sick of more taxes and no jobs, then the Republicans will take the senate again.
    -------------------–
    That attitude is exactly why Republicans found themselves on the losing side of the 2012 elections. It should be shocking that so many right wigners believe that stalling the economy will gain them power. Didn't 2012 teach you that strategy is a near fatal losing strategy?

    February 4, 2013 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  12. BCW

    Well, The crash of the Tea Party and GOP establishment would be the 2013 block buster in Capitol HIlls. I am going to need a lot of popcorn.

    February 4, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  13. simp

    I agree with bluealliance, I get so sick of cnn and fox news having these angry bitter old men on every sunday. the american people have enough to deal with today, why do we have to see these idiots sprewing more hate on the morning shows?

    February 4, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Rudy NYC

    Ancient Texan wrote:

    Four more years of the disaster that was the first four years will change the power in the Senate.
    ---------------–
    Bad news, Tex. Seeing how the markets have incerased 120% since March 2009, Wall Street loves Pres. Obama. I don't think Wall Street wants to see this administration go away despite all of the right wing "anti-business bluster" that they level at Pres. Obama.

    February 4, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  15. 1608

    His conservative posture has also been the subject of some criticism, especially when he proposed in 2011 that South Carolina examine creating its own currency.

    "If folks lose faith in the dollar, we need to have some kind of backup," he said at the time
    _–__-__-___-___-- The south can keep this one.

    February 4, 2013 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |