Even essentially the most optimistic Democrats did not have South Carolina on the checklist of Republican U.S. Senate seats they critically thought they might flip initially of 2020.

But a bit greater than two weeks out from Election Day, it is inside attain.

Democrat Jaime Harrison — a 44-year-old former state celebration chairman, congressional aide and lobbyist — has risen within the polls and is giving three-term incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham one thing to fret about this election.

Make little question, South Carolina stays a solidly Republican state, and since Graham was first elected in 2002, he has received simply each time.

What has modified this yr is Graham himself, particularly how he is aligned himself throughout the Republican Party. For most of his political life, Graham appealed to the center, these extra average South Carolina voters who noticed him as somebody who may minimize by means of partisan politics.

The greatest image of this was his shut friendship with the late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain.

But now McCain is gone, and Graham’s most distinguished new relationship is with none apart from President Trump, who not solely clashed with McCain on points, but additionally mocked and ridiculed his popularity as a navy hero, surviving years of torture as a prisoner of warfare in Vietnam. At the beginning of the 2016 marketing campaign, Trump famously mentioned, “I like individuals who weren’t captured, okay?”

At the time, Graham was working in opposition to him for the GOP presidential nomination, sugar coating none of his critiques. Donald Trump was “unfit for workplace” and a “non secular bigot” based on Graham again then.

One Harrison TV spot reveals clips of Graham from the 2016 marketing campaign, when he appeared appalled by Trump. Then, the advert cuts to more moderen statements the place Graham proclaims, “No, I do not suppose he is a race baiting, xenophobic non secular bigot, I just like the President. I’m just like the happiest dude in America proper now.”

Some South Carolina voters, like actual property agent Melinda Nicholson, are mystified by Graham shifting from such a detailed friendship with McCain to his present friendship with Trump.

“I’m simply not happy,” Nicholson says of Graham. “It’s like he is Trump’s minion, and I do not like that.”

That opinion comes from a Democrat, however Nicholson rapidly explains that she has voted for Graham each time he is run for Senate. This yr, she says, “I’m voting for Jaime Harrison.”

The incumbent’s vocal protection of Trump prompted Democrats from across the nation to make on-line donations to Harrison. With that nationwide help, Harrison has been in a position to mount an aggressive media marketing campaign, particularly with tv adverts — a few of them biographical, introducing himself to voters, a few of them traditional assault adverts going after Graham.

But he is additionally had the cash to construct a marketing campaign group, attain out to voters by means of social media, radio, junk mail and cellphone calls. He went from being greater than 15 factors down early within the yr to nearly wiping out Graham’s lead in a collection of polls because the marketing campaign reached its remaining month.

Then got here the blockbuster information that actually put Harrison within the highlight — a report shattering haul within the third quarter, bringing in $57 million {dollars}, topping the earlier single quarter fundraising report in any Senate race ever, set by Beto O’Rourke in Texas throughout the 2018 midterms.

It’s extra money than Harrison — who hopes to be the primary African American Democrat elected to the U.S. Senate from a southern state — may even hope to spend within the remaining weeks of the marketing campaign.

The surge in items to Harrison definitely bought Senator Graham’s consideration. He’s even used appearances on Fox News to induce viewers to contribute {dollars}, as he did in late September on the conservative cable community: “Every liberal within the nation needs to take me out.” He then spells out the deal with to his web site, making the plea very clear.

The incumbent senator spent the previous week chairing the Supreme Court affirmation hearings for nominee Amy Coney Barrett, and he even alluded to Harrison’s fundraising success throughout these proceedings when the subject of marketing campaign finance got here up. “I do not know what is going on on on the market, however I can inform you there’s some huge cash being raised on this marketing campaign,” he mentioned at one level, chatting with the nominee, and seemingly the entire listening to. “I’d wish to know the place the hell a few of it is coming from.”

Early voting within the South Carolina is now underway. In the Charleston space, folks have been casting ballots on the native sports activities coliseum.

Mike O’Connell, 54, is a police officer who describes himself as an unbiased who’s conservative. He voted to reelect Graham, explaining, “He helps the police, I do know that for certain. Supreme Court, that is an enormous difficulty, and though I’m unbiased, I would favor that Republicans maintain on to the senate.”

The Supreme Court is a motivator for anti-Graham voters, too. Four years in the past, after the demise of Justice Antonin Scalia, Graham mentioned it was proper to disclaim President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a affirmation vote as a result of it was an election yr. He mentioned then, and has repeated lately, that it was a precept he’d adhere to even underneath President Trump. He broke that pledge by totally backing the nomination at present earlier than the Senate within the remaining days of the 2020 election.

That damaged promise is a matter for voter Brenda Toohey, a 56-year-old nurse practitioner from Mount Pleasant, S.C. She says occasions of the previous 4 years have made her an excellent stronger Democrat, “I feel that Lindsey Graham is a hypocrite for letting this vote go for Supreme Court and the Supreme Court. It’s very regarding.”

The massive threat for Graham is that this election alters his typical strategy to profitable. He’s all the time relied on average voters — be they Republicans, independents or Democrats. They famously helped him survive main challenges over time from way more conservative Republican hopefuls.

This yr, many moderates are upset with him and his closeness to the president.

Charleston lawyer Andy Savage, who says his politics are principally proper within the center and that he common splits his poll between Democratic and GOP candidates.

But one fixed had been his unwavering help for Graham, as a voter and as a contributor. “Financially, we supported him,” Savage mentioned. “You know, all of the bumper stickers and all that type of stuff in politics that you simply do. We had been all in.”

Not this yr. “We had been all the time eyeball to eyeball on the problems,” he says, then the senator, “simply veered off into Never Neverland.”

And within the course of, Savage says, Graham signaled to voters like him that he does not want them any extra.

Now it seems, Graham cannot spare a lot of any help.

Source: www.npr.org


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