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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

South Carolina state senator Lee Bright (R), who is running a Tea Party-backed challenge to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in South Carolina’s Republican primary, is a magnet for controversy.

Bright most recently grabbed headlines on Monday’s edition of Fox News Radio’s The Alan Colmes Show, when he suggested that teachers should be allowed to carry machine guns on school grounds:

COLMES: So [teachers] shouldn’t have machine guns?
BRIGHT: I would think a teacher protecting a school grounds should be able to carry whatever she can carry legally.
COLMES: So should machine guns be legal to carry?
BRIGHT: The Second Amendment is pretty clear. It says the right to carry arms should not be infringed. […] COLMES: So you should be able to have any gun you want?
BRIGHT: Well, I don’t see how the government can regulate it.

The discussion was not purely academic; Bright has authored bills to expand the number of guns in schools, and has repeatedly argued that South Carolina should be able to nullify federal gun laws. Additionally, as Think Progress‘ Igor Volsky points out, the Supreme Court has ruled that the government can, in fact, limit “dangerous and unusual” weapons (such as machine guns made after the passage of the 1986 Firearms’ Owners Protection Act).

Bright’s extreme opposition to tougher gun laws is just one of many positions that puts him far outside of the mainstream, even in staunchly Republican South Carolina. Among other examples, Bright has:

  • Argued that welfare programs are “all sin” and “legalized plunder.”
  • Explained his demand that food stamps be cut by insisting that “able-bodied people, if they don’t work, they shouldn’t eat.”
  • Warned that “Brown Shirts” from the Internal Revenue Service are going to enforce the Affordable Care Act with AR-15 semiautomatic rifles.
  • Insisted that “FEMA is a scam,” and that the government should have no role in providing disaster relief.
  • Suggested that Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor might want to dissolve the states, and that President Obama wants to become a king.
  • Threatened that South Carolinians may have to “use the Second Amendment” against the government, adding that “I want to lay down my life for my liberty just like my forefathers did.”

In addition to all of his overheated rhetoric, Bright holds at least $1.4 million in debt from a failed trucking business — a disclosure that rather undercuts his efforts to paint himself as a fiscal conservative.

In other words, Bright is an opposition researcher’s dream candidate. And yet it’s plausible that he could wind up in the U.S. Senate.

Early polling of South Carolina’s Republican primary finds Graham with a comfortable lead. The most recent survey, from Gravis Marketing, finds Graham with a big 54 to 10 percent advantage over Bright; Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace has 6 percent support, followed by 2010 congressional candidate Richard Cash at 5 percent, and attorney Bill Connor at 2 percent. 23 percent are undecided.

The poll does contain warning signs for the incumbent, however. When asked if they would support a “Tea Party” challenger to Senator Graham, 39 percent of voters said “yes,” while 37 percent said “no,” and 24 percent were undecided. This suggests that if any of Graham’s challengers can consolidate support on the right, there is plenty of room for their numbers to grow. That unsettling thought could become reality for Graham this summer; if he fails to crack 50 percent in the June 10 primary, he would face the second-place finisher in a one-on-one runoff election two weeks later.

If Bright can force a runoff and carry the Tea Party banner against Graham — who has long been a target of scorn from the right — then the race could narrow rapidly. And even if Graham wins the runoff (to be sure, his robust fundraising and unmatched name recognition would make him the strong favorite even in a head-to-head matchup with Bright), he may have to shift far enough to the right to leave him vulnerable against a strong Democratic challenger.

Thankfully for Republicans, no such challenger exists as of now. It would take an exceptionally strong Democratic candidate to win any statewide election in South Carolina, and the only Democrat in the race — Jay Stamper, an entrepreneur who pleaded guilty to three felony charges related to the illegal sale of securities in 2006 — is unlikely to become that candidate.

There is still plenty of time until the March 30 deadline to file for the Senate race. If Graham shows even a hint of vulnerability, and gives Bright even the slightest chance at winning the Republican nomination, then Democrats would be wise to find a stronger candidate to run against what could be an incredibly weak GOP nominee.

Screenshot: YouTube

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  • FredAppell

    So, according to this guy’s world view, not only should our teachers carry a
    gun, but it should be a machine gun as well. Why not just declare Marshall
    Law and be done with it. We could put armed soldiers in our schools (sarcasm) and let the teachers teach. Hell, we could just give everyone a mini nuclear weapon and see how things progress from there.

    I realize how absurd my rhetoric sounds, that is exactly the point I’m trying to make, it’s at least no more absurd than Mr. Bright’s rhetoric. I’m all for the Second Amendment but every time the Liberals discuss gun regulation, gun enthusiasts up the anti. The debate has become tit for tat…both sides are turning it into a zero sum game, it doesn’t need to be this way. For those of you who believe that we should all be armed at all times, there is absolutely no evidence to prove that violence would drop dramatically. History proves that perfectly, the 1800’s is a perfect example of that. The Old West was
    an extremely violent place to be, life was hard enough back then without the threat of being shot. Technology has come amazingly far but people have not. Reasonable gun legislation is necessary.

    • Dominick Vila

      Fred, your opinion is far from being absurd. I smiled when I read this article, for the same reason you expressed your opinion. Mr. Bright’s claim is a reflection of the mentality of those who don’t see anything wrong with using lethal weapons to settle a score, or kill innocent people, including children. I doubt the Framers would have condoned the sale of lethal weapons to criminals and the mentally ill.
      In any case, the idea of President Obama, a man whose record shows an inclination to solving problems peacefully (except when doing so is a virtual impossibility) sending armed IRS officials to collect back taxes from irresponsible Republicans is laughable. Sadly, that’s the kind of people that are likely to be elected in some Red districts.

      • FredAppell

        Hi Dominick:

        The truly sad part about people like him is that they actually believe in their message. To the most radical among us, this is their idea of utopia (scary but true). I admit, I have changed my stance on gun ownership since I last posted on the memo but that is only due to the fact that I realized not all people own guns for the same reasons. They’re not all nut jobs. I live about 50-60 ft from an indoor gun range and it’s obvious to me that these people are responsible gun owners who enjoy shooting in a controlled environment. They’re not looking to harm anyone nor are they trying to make a political statement, it’s just recreational. Some people own guns for a more practical purpose such as feeding their families in these difficult times, it’s the people like Bright and the crowd that think they’re entitled to military grade weapons for god knows what purpose that I’m most concerned with.

        • Allan Richardson

          The irony is that those who scream the loudest that they have a right to have a gun because they AREN’T mentally unstable, raise doubts that they aren’t by their screaming.

          • FredAppell

            :)), so true! Ironic and scary. He has won public office
            while presumably using the very same pulpit. He’s also trying to bait candidates who believe in gun control. I don’t even hear anyone else talking about gun control at the moment and yet here he is trying to drum up fear. It’s all he’s got and to enough ignorant people it’s enough to win him a valuable seat.

    • jmprint

      Well they are working hard at taking back women’s rights to the early 1900’s why not take all America back to the 1800. You know Stupid does as stupid is.

      • FredAppell

        The amount of support that politicians like him get is astounding. I can only assume that supporters such as these are aware of the same thing, It’s becoming evident to me that our culture is moving way too fast for their comfort zone and they want to return to what they perceive as a simpler time.

    • CPAinNewYork

      You’re right, Mr. Appell. Your rhetoric does sound absurd. The solution to the problem is to take the guns out of the hands of the mentally disturbed.

  • Budjob

    South Carolina,The largest zoo in the world!

    • jmprint

      But their senator is a CLOWN, are you sure it’s not a circus.

  • George Sanders

    I read this crap for my “Laugh of the Day”, spelling demise of the GOP as a serious political party..keep it coming.

  • howa4x

    The fact that he has confederate flags behind him says it all. I wish these bible belt gun toting states would just leave

    • CPAinNewYork

      Several years ago, the good ol’ boys had to eat crow when a civil rights group went to court and forced the Confederate battle flag from atop the state capitol building.

      In follow-up interviews, several of the protesters had to face the cameras and none of them came off well: they had to admit that their advocacy of the Confederate flag’s flying over the state capitol was an affront to the state’s blacks.

  • Leo A Scalia

    nice flags behind you asshole.

  • jointerjohn

    Please Oh Please South Carolina, secede from the Union again. Don’t worry, we won’t blow you a new asshole like the last time, we will smile and wave goodbye. To think that thousands of good men died to keep these knuckle-dragging mouth breathers in our country is very sad.

    • edwardw69

      They won’t secede; they get a lot more than they give. A lot more.

      • Allan Richardson

        So do the rest of the “red” states.

  • johninPCFL

    Why do they continue to use the PC term “extreme” when these knuckleheads are truly insane? Why not just call them loons, lunatics, crazy, paranoid delusional, or whatever “medical term” actually fits?

    • Bryan Blake

      Because, because to their political patrons, they are their lovable, cute and cuddly little political offspring.

  • irishtap

    This human shaped anal explosion would make a neanderthal look presidential.

  • johninPCFL

    In any bank robbery, who do the criminals go for first? The guards. Why? Well, they’ve got the guns.
    So, arm the teachers. Now, who do the crazies go after first? Well, the teachers. Why? Well, they’ve got the guns.
    So, after arming the teachers, who pays for the liability insurance? Is the teacher liable for NOT killing the invader if the invader kills a student? Is the teacher indemnified for accidentally shooting a student during the invasion? Do the teachers get “hazard pay” for carrying the gun?

    • FredAppell

      Right on, cause we all know that Cops have never been shot in the line of duty. LOL. I would rather live in a society where peace comes from a sincere reverence toward one another vs. being forced to act accordingly for fear of being shot.

      • CPAinNewYork

        Mr. Appell:

        The Pollyanna world that you crave has never existed and never will exist.

        • FredAppell

          I wish you were wrong but it’s true…we seem to be getting worse. I believe you and I had a conversation 1 or 2 years ago about this very thing. As I recall, I was trying to be a bit more optimistic then…I tend to be somewhat of a dreamer at times but I have learned to be a bit more of a pragmatists these days. The Pollyanna world that I crave is simply an expression of what I would love to see but that’s all it is, just an expression and not likely to ever come to fruition.

  • Jambi

    Another Tea Party Clown “hiding behind the (Confederate) flag, the Bible, and pure ignorance”… I would think this would be an embarrassment for South Carolina and even other conservatives

    • CPAinNewYork

      I think that it would be very hard to embarrass good ol’ boys from whatever state they come.

  • CPAinNewYork

    Years ago, I had an economics professor from South Carolina. He said that in Columbia, the state capital, the state legislature and the insane asylum were at opposite ends of the city’s mail thoroughfare and the inmates were interchangeable.

  • dtgraham

    Bright said, “I want to lay down my life for my liberty just like my forefathers did.” With any luck maybe he’ll set himself on fire in protest like the Vietnamese monks used to. That would work.