Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) middle-of-the-road approach to immigration reform does not sit well with Tea Party Republicans in South Carolina. Graham now faces three challengers in his 2014 re-election bid, largely due to his reform push.
Nancy Mace — a public relations executive who was the first woman to graduate from The Citadel — South Carolina state senator Lee Bright, and businessman Richard Cash will all run against Graham.
Graham is in a similar situation to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who is also being challenged in a primary by a Tea Party Republican. But unlike McConnell, if Graham can get past the primary, he faces no strong Democratic opposition in the statewide election.
So far, all three have criticized Graham’s position on immigration reform.
Cash believes Graham’s acceptance of a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is of particular importance, calling the incumbent’s stance on this issue “highly destructive to the concept of the rule of law.”
Similarly, Bright stressed that “we have to enforce the law,” when speaking about immigration in Landrum, South Carolina.
Mace insists that Graham’s immigration position will cost taxpayers. “Lindsey Graham’s immigration reform would cost Americans more than $6 trillion & does nothing to secure the border. Conservative?” Mace posted on her Facebook page on May 10.
While three primary challengers may point to trouble with his base, it may also be politically advantageous for Graham. Political strategists believe the trio will split the libertarian vote, leaving Graham with a path to victory. “If I’m Lindsey Graham, I want two or three people opposing me,” Citadel political scientist Scott Buchanan told South Carolina newspaper The State.
The three also face an uphill battle against Graham’s formidable re-election campaign, which boasts $6.3 million in cash on hand and a SuperPAC to back the 58-year-old senator. Bright, Cash, and Mace have just 10 months to raise enough money to challenge Graham before the June 2014 primary — suggesting that Graham has good odds of avoiding an upset.
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