Two SC Conservatives May Challenge Lindsey Graham

Tuesday, 12 Mar 2013 11:30 AM

By Cyrus Afzali

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South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is facing a potential primary challenge from two conservatives, as an increasing number of Republicans accuse him of being out of step with the state’s views.

The Hill newspaper reported Tuesday that conservative blogger Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel, is considering a run. In addition, Bruce Carroll, co-founder of the gay conservative group GOProud, may also enter the race.

Mace said several Republicans in the state approached her following an op-ed piece she wrote in The Hill last week criticizing Graham for denouncing Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul’s attack on U.S. drone policy during his filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination as CIA chief.

That criticism was the latest in a long string of incidents that have upset conservatives who see Graham as someone who often breaks with GOP philosophy on spending, taxes, climate change, and immigration. In addition to his criticism of Paul, many Republicans were also upset after he praised President Barack Obama following a dinner with a dozen Republicans to discuss budget matters.

The Club for Growth, a group that promotes fiscally conservative policies, is reportedly considering throwing its money behind a primary challenger. In addition, NumbersUSA, which supports limiting immigration, is running television ads attacking Graham’s role in bipartisan immigration talks.

Despite the attacks, political observers believe Graham will be hard to beat in 2014 since he’s already amassed a $6 million campaign war chest. He also has a reputation for working tirelessly on the campaign trail, a factor that distinguishes him from other Republicans who have lost to tea party challengers.

In addition, recent polls show Graham’s standing among Republicans is improving. A Winthrop University poll of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents put his approval rating at 72 percent, with only 17 percent disapproving.

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