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Lindsey Graham Could Be in Trouble in Senate Race in November

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Lindsey Graham Could Be in Trouble in Senate Race in November

2020-09-21 22:37:30

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Lindsey Graham (Image source: Screenshot)

Democrats are hoping to pick up senators this election to take over the majority. They are feeling they have a realistic chance with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). As a fervent Trump ally, it would do them well to get him out. His flip flop on filling an empty Supreme Court chair isn't helping his chances any.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed that Graham and his opponent Jaime Harrison are running neck and neck with 48 percent each. Since then, Harrison has pulled in $2 million, which is being added to the $10.6 million he raised in August. Additionally, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee just pumped seven figures into South Carolina. It shows they're watching this race.

"There's a lot of momentum on the ground here, and it's so great, and it's so encouraging," said Harrison on Friday. "When I first got into this race, and people told me that I couldn't do this, my whole statement to them is, 'Watch me,' and that's exactly what we're doing."

With the recent polling and Harrison's fundraising, "it says to me that the battlefield is expanded, and it also says that no one can afford to ignore this race," said Antijuan Seawright, a Democratic strategist based in South Carolina.

"When Jaime entered this race, I think there was a serious case of infrastructure building and building a case, and now I think all of that is finalized, and we're finally at the place where we have something," added Seawright.

What helps Graham with conservatives is his connection to Trump, backing him on nearly everything. Before Trump was elected, Graham spoke up against him, but after he took office, the senator chose to go along with everything he said. That leads to less popularity with Democrats and gives Harrison room to get his foot in the door.

And now Graham's comments are coming back to haunt him. With Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dying on Friday, it leads to questions of when her seat will be filled.

Four years ago Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused to put through former President Barack Obama's justice pick, Merrick Garland, saying the people should choose in a presidential election year. However, now he wants to push through a Trump pick.

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who would lead the confirmation process for a Ginsburg replacement, this weekend pointed to statements he's made in the past several months showing he was set to push another nominee this year. Yet, this was after his comments from 2018 were being broadcast. He said then he would wait until the next election if an opening in the Supreme Court happened after the primaries.

Democrats are saying it's too close to the election for Donald Trump to nominate a replacement. They want McConnell to stick to what he'd said in 2016. It's unknown how this drama will affect the election. Recently, Harrison was even having a better showing in South Carolina than Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Graham doesn't have the numbers that Trump has.

Harrison says he owes his numbers to his cross-party support. He's not often asked about the presidential race, and it allows him to run outside of that.

"I know we have crossover support. I've talked to a number of Republicans, who I know are going to support us this fall," he said. "There are a lot of people, and I think people are going to be surprised on Election Day at the number of crossover votes we get."

As a Black man himself, some of Harrison's numbers are attached to his being a draw for Black voters, who make up more than half of the South Carolina voters. "In the past, the Black community hasn't had a reason to come out and vote," he said. "Well, now we're trying to give them one."

But even as a lobbyist, a Democratic National Committee official, and the first African American to lead the South Carolina Democratic Party, he still has quite a battle in front of him to best Graham. He won his Senate seat the previous three times by double-digit margins.

Despite the extra funding being thrown Harrison's way, Graham still has more cash in the till. The most recent filings with the Federal Election Commission show Graham with about $15 million and Harrison about $10.2 million.

While it was neck and neck last week, it was still assumed by many that Graham would pull it out. However, the recent anger of Democrats over Graham flipping from saying he wouldn't put a Trump nominee through to now saying he would could make up the difference. 

Also of note is whether the Black vote will come out in support of Harrison in light of everything that has happened over the summer with the Black Lives Matter movement. Biden does well with the Black vote, and they may come out strong to vote for both him and Harrison in South Carolina.

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