Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, October 23, 2016

South Carolina Sideshow Deepens As Challenger Labels Graham ‘Ambiguously Gay’

South Carolina Sideshow Deepens As Challenger Labels Graham ‘Ambiguously Gay’

Dave Feliciano, a fringe challenger to Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) in South Carolina’s 2014 Senate race, made it clear on Thursday just how poor a job the Tea Party did in finding a serious candidate to oppose the two-term incumbent.

In a news conference announcing an alliance between all four of Graham’s Republican challengers, Feliciano used his time at the podium to challenge Graham’s sexual orientation.  “It’s about time that South Carolina [says] hey, We’re tired of the ambiguously gay senator from South Carolina. We’re ready for a new leader to merge the Republican Party. We’re done with this. This is what it’s about, all of us coming together and saying, one way or the other, one of us is going to be on that ballot in November.”

This gaffe may well sum up the seriousness of Graham’s Tea Party challengers: at a formal press conference launching a united front against the incumbent senator, they couldn’t resist a gay joke.

Moments like this help to explain why Graham is crushing all his primary challengers in the polls. A recent Winthrop University survey shows Graham with 45 percent support from likely voters. Challenger Lee Bright — who is extreme, even for South Carolina — poses the greatest risk to Graham with 9 percent support. He is followed by Nancy Mace, Bill Conner and Richard Cash, who all garner between 3 and 4 percent. Dave Feliciano’s support among likely voters didn’t register in the survey.

But his homophobic statement probably did register on the South Carolina’s Tea Party’s radar. Feliciano is not the first right-winger to question Graham’s sexual orientation.

William Gheen, head of the anti-immigration group Americans for Legal Immigration PAC (ALIPAC), said in 2010 that homosexuality is “a secret Graham has.”

“I hope this secret isn’t being used as leverage over Senator Graham, so today I think Senator Graham, you need to come forward and tell people about your alternative lifestyle and your homosexuality,” Gheen told supporters at a Tea Party rally in South Carolina. “Barney Frank is more honest and brave than you,” Gheen added.

The far right’s failure to find a serious candidate in South Carolina is especially embarrassing considering how ferociously critical the Tea Party has been of Senator Graham for years now. Graham’s work on foreign policy issues has made him an easy target for the isolationist-minded Tea Party. Joe Dugan, executive producer of the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, explained this discontent to Breibart News. “Huckabee is praising Graham on Benghazi? Has that been resolved while I wasn’t looking? Wasn’t it Graham that wanted to arm the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and have us rush into Syria?”

As the poll numbers indicate, however, all of this discontent is not manifesting itself in the polls. But, if Graham’s challengers successfully force a runoff election, it may cause the senator another headache. If he does not receive above 50 percent of the popular vote in the primary, he will face the second-place finisher in a two-week runoff election, which would provide an outside chance for his challenger to consolidate enough support to pull an upset.

But as Thursday’s event illustrated, Senator Graham shouldn’t be too concerned about beating anyone who emerges from the South Carolina Tea Party’s absurd primary.

Photo: Secretary of Defense via Flickr

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • lemstoll

    Ambiguously gay?

  • jakenhyde

    I don’t understand why the writer says that Feliciano’s statement was “homophobic”. Simply accusing someone of being gay isn’t homophobic on its face.
    Feliciano isn’t the only one who thinks Graham is gay. That’s been going around for years. Only Graham’s hair dresser knows for sure.
    I think the word homophobe and it’s many variations is getting way over used these days.

    • pisces63

      Homophobe works here, why? We don’t know if it is true. IF it is, so what. The fact he accuses by assuming, makes it homophobic and actually a form of gay bashing. It was done in a denigrating and ridiculing way/ First time I even heard of it about him. I just don’t pay attention to those facts. Wasn’t that long ago I found out Barney Frank was. I just didn’t care!!!!

    • idamag

      So, get your noses out of other peoples’ crotches.

  • Chip70

    Gosh… There are worse Republicans THAN Graham? I thought he was low as that party could possibly sink.

  • Orland724

    Everyone’s been saying that for years. The south talks a lot about homosexuality, but there’s so much of it over there. They just need to come out of the closet and stop all the hate against homosexuals.

  • elw

    II would never in a million years vote for Senator Graham, but the very last reason for that is his sexual orientation. What difference does it make? There are enough respectable, openly gay members of our congress to know that sexual orientation has nothing to do with competence or the quality of the person. Feliciano’s statement is more an indicator of himself and his inability to serve in the US Congress than Senator Grahams. It just seems to me that the quality of GOP candidates keeps getting worse and worse.

    • idamag

      Shows you which political group has their noses in other people’s crotches, doesn’t it. I wouldn’t vote for Graham either, but his sexual orientation is not important. He is just not intelligent.

      • elw


  • Lola Johnson

    Feliciano’s statement is not “homophobic”. He has no phobia. He is not afraid of homosexuals, he is just a blind, hate-filled bigot.

    • CrankyToo

      I think it would be reasonable to argue that Feliciano’s statement certainly is homophobic because of the context in which it was made. There was no reason to even mention Graham’s sexual preference in the context of an election campaign. It was a purely incendiary remark, made only to inflame the passion of homophobes and is, therefore, homophobic. I’m just saying…

  • ThomasBonsell

    This obsession that right wingers have about the sexuality of other people just might be (probably is) a strong indication of sexual perversion in themselves that they try to hide behind a veil of bigotry.

    • dpaano

      I’ve always thought that those who talk about hating homosexuals are probably the ones that have deep thoughts that they might be of that persuasion themselves and are only trying to “convince” themselves otherwise by pretending to hate something they don’t want to admit that they might be…..hmmmm?

  • Bill

    Who cares? He’s just another GOP asshole.

  • tarcomed

    it takes somebody pretty bad to make graham look good in comparison.

  • jointerjohn

    So the Tea Party which started out lying to all of us by insisting they were simply about less taxes and smaller government is showing what it really is. A splinter group that uses three-cornered hats to cover up four-cornered heads full of hatred and intolerance. If Senator Graham’s party forces him to move even further to the right, the entire range from far-left to right-center will be left wide open for a new democrat in the Ernest Hollings style. Indiana all over again.

  • DezJimmar

    Gay or not… who gives a crap. Lindsay Graham is just a terrible senator with terrible ideas and would vote to keep the U.S. in perpetual war mode. If South Carolina replaces him (and I hope they do!), please replace him with a very liberal Democrat.

    • idamag

      Or at least someone with a triple-digit I.Q.

  • lemstoll


  • idamag

    More from the fringe lunatics. That sad thing is that people are so ______(fill in the blank) they elect these lunatics to government. Before someone gets started on it, let’s talk about Benghazi. This is how it goes: “Weather report calls for more winter weather.” “What about Benghazi?” “Twelve years a Slave opens in theaters this week.” “What about Benghazi?” “Robotic car driven from Boston, driverless, to Seattle.” “What about Benghazi?” I know this is irrelevant. I’m just getting the jump on the nut whose going to bring it up.

  • Boston You

    While the collectivist notion of a top-down designed society runs counter to science, the individualist conception aligns with integral calculus and atomic theory in the sense that the whole is best described through the individual parts.

  • dana becker

    Yes Lindsey. Sashay over to the microphone and confess.