The Hill had a piece this week that goes into how U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s (R. SC) full embrace of Trump might be putting his re-election bid in danger:
Graham’s alliance with Trump has helped him avoid a nasty primary fight, while fueling Democratic efforts to unseat him in November.
Scott Huffmon, a political science professor and the executive director for the Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at Winthrop University, predicted that the match-up against Jaime Harrison, the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and Graham's top opponent, could be “potentially a single-digit race.”
“The probability is Graham is going to win, but he has not faced this well-known or this well-funded of a candidate probably since … when he first ran for the seat,” Huffmon said. “The question is, how are Democrats going to turn out against Trump?”
Polling in the race has been scarce, and the spread of the coronavirus has largely forced both campaigns to go fully digital as they try to raise money and connect with voters. Two polls released in February had Graham leading by double digits. A left-leaning Change Research-Post and Courier poll released late last year found Graham with just a 2-point lead, while an internal Harrison poll released in late March had Graham ahead by 4 percentage points.
Graham, during a recent virtual town hall meeting, noted that he’s ramped up his digital operations and touted his campaign as well placed to win in November.
“We’ve got a digital platform that I’m proud of. We’re raising a lot of money,” Graham said. “I’m doing as much interaction as I can. … We’ve got a very viable campaign.”
But there are signs that Harrison is making inroads in the deeply red state, where Graham remains the favorite to win.
“It’s clear he has the energy and momentum on his side to put this seat in play. Senator Graham is a weak incumbent who has lost touch with his state, put his own self-serving political interests ahead of his constituents, and is now facing the toughest general election of his career,” said Stewart Boss, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Huffmon notes that while Graham morphed himself from a Trump critic to a Trump ally, it helped his status in the GOP primary but he still risks turning off Independent voters. While the race remains an uphill battle, there are legitimate reasons why both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball moved the race from “safe Republican” to “likely Republican”:
In explaining the ratings changes, the Cook and Sabato reports both emphasized that this November’s expected match-up between Graham and Harrison is shaping up to be more competitive than usual in a reliably red state.
They also cautioned that while their new predictions moved slightly away from favoring Graham for victory, the forecasts could not be read as predicting Harrison has a strong chance of winning the race, when Graham still enjoys the advantages of incumbency, a massive war chest and close ties to President Donald Trump.
The prognosticators did, however, argue it was now impossible to ignore Harrison’s strong fundraising, growing name recognition and potential for mobilizing the South Carolina’s significant base of black voters who tend to support Democrats.
He was the first black chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party and a longtime senior aide for U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s most influential Democrat, giving Harrison in-state clout.
Harrison also currently holds a leadership position with the Democratic National Committee and spent years as a lobbyist for the now-defunct Podesta Group, giving him deep-pocketed, out-of-state donor connections.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Harrison for the Senate seat early on in a vote of confidence in his viability.
“When we look at this race, it’s clear it’s no longer one that is being ignored by either party. And our definition of a race that is ‘Likely Republican’ is simply a race that is ‘not considered competitive at this point, but [has] the potential to become engaged,’” Jessica Taylor, an editor with the Cook Political Report, wrote in her analysis. “This race fits that criteria.”
“South Carolina remains the most Republican state on the Eastern Seaboard,” Kyle Kondik and J. Miles Coleman of Sabato’s Crystal Ball agreed. “Harrison’s path is not an easy one, but it is also not an impossible one.”
Patheos points out that Graham sucking up to Trump in his response to the COVID-19 pandemic response is just peak pathetic:
Bootlicker: Senator Lindsey Graham praises Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that Trump is “pro-life in the real sense of the word.”
Lindsey Graham praised Donald Trump’s pandemic response because of its “pro-life” foundation. Maybe he meant some other Donald Trump?
Graham paid homage to his Dear Leader, President Donald Trump, while appearing on Tuesday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” Speaking about the virus, and Trump’s response, Graham said:
I believe if we’d let it run its course, Tony, you’d have a couple million people dead right now. Look, 70,000 people [have] died with us locking the whole world down, so the president put life—he is pro-life in the real sense of the word—he put life ahead of his economic success.
The economy came to a grinding halt—not because of anything bad about the economy—to save lives. Now we’re trying to balance how to turn it on. I think he’s done a really good job.
Reporting on the story, Right Wing Watch notes that Trump’s response is probably not as “pro-life” as Graham would like people to think:
Trump has repeatedly suggested that reopening the nation’s economy will result in more Americans dying from the coronavirus, but he has continued to push for states to ease lockdown restrictions and businesses to reopen anyway.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that reopening the economy is “the only answer that's sustainable” even though it will likely lead to an increase in COVID-19 cases.
Speaking to the media after touring the Milliken & Company plant near Pendleton, Graham acknowledged “there will be an increase in infections the more people get around each other.”
“But we’ll have the capability to deal with it and manage it,” Graham said. “And hopefully drug therapies will be available soon to lessen the effect on the individual who may catch the virus.”
Recent projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington show that COVID-19 deaths in South Carolina could increase dramatically as state officials seek to reopen the state's economy.
But Graham, a Republican from Seneca, stressed that continuing to keep businesses closed is not a viable option. His comments came hours after the U.S. Department of Labor announced that the national unemployment rate soared to 14.7% percent in April.
“We can't print enough money in Washington to absorb the cost of keeping the economy closed forever,” Graham said.
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday Congress would extend the additional $600 unemployment benefit provided in the coronavirus relief package past July only “over our dead bodies.”
His remarks came the day that the US passed 60,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus, by far the largest reported death toll in the world.
The senator made the remarks while appearing on an April 29 panel for AccelerateSC, the coronavirus task force created by Gov. Henry McMaster to examine ways to revitalize the state's economy. He was joined by his fellow Republican senator from South Carolina, Tim Scott.
“I promise you over our dead bodies will this get reauthorized,” Graham said of his and Scott's opposition to government spending on unemployment. “We've got to stop this. You cannot turn on the economy until you get this aberration of the law of fixed.”
The coronavirus relief package passed by Congress in late March provided emergency benefits to Americans who had lost their jobs because of the coronavirus outbreak. The law includes funds that grant people $600 per week on top of their regular unemployment benefits until July 25. Separately, the law also bolsters unemployment funds issued by individual states and makes more people eligible for the benefits.
Under regular circumstances in South Carolina, unemployment insurance lasts up to 20 weeks, and the average weekly benefit amount is $236. The maximum benefit is $326. In South Carolina, people who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus through no fault of their own are eligible for all three types expanded unemployment benefits under the relief package.
Proponents said the funds were necessary to shore up Americans' finances after social-distancing and stay-at-home orders closed nonessential businesses, which caused widespread job losses and furloughs. About 30 million people have filed for unemployment over the past six weeks.
Healthcare experts have said that social-distancing measures will need to remain in effect to some degree for several months and may need to be loosened or tightened depending on the state of the outbreak. Americans to a large extent are still being urged to work from home whenever possible and not to travel for work unless they are an essential worker.
But Graham and Scott said these additional unemployment benefits would incentivize people to stay at home rather than return to work, to the detriment of small business owners.
While Graham is cowering behind Trump, Harrison is proudly standing with Biden:
Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, who is running against Republican Senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, has said that Joe Biden is appearing on television every day and is providing a balance and a somber reflection in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“He's trying to be a sense of calm in this really great storm that we have,” Harrison told BBC's Hardtalk program.
Harrison said that he can make “Nostradamus” predictions that he will win the election in South Carolina, and that Biden will win the presidential race both in his state and in the nation as a whole.
“What the U.S. people are looking for is real, true and tested leadership, someone who is not going to demonize the American people but is going to be there to protect them, to fight for them, to push for them, their families, their communities,” Harrison said.
“Under our leadership, things will get better.”
Let’s finally get rid of Graham. Click below to donate and get involved with Harrison and Biden’s campaigns: