South Carolina may be a Republican "red" state, but that doesn't mean Democrats are not serious about challenging veteran Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Frequently charging that Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a tool of President Donald Trump, Orangeburg native and Democratic candidate Jaime Harrison is getting a lot of backing in his bid to unseat Graham.
Harrison reported his campaign has raised $2.2 million over the past three months, bringing total cash on hand to over $2.6 million more than a year away from the election. And the Democrat said this past week he has raised more than $200,000 in contributions since Graham’s comments comparing impeachment proceedings to a political lynching.
According to The Post and Courier of Charleston, the quarterly total is the most ever raised in a single quarter by a Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in South Carolina, breaking the record Harrison set with $1.5 million in the previous quarter.
Harrison, a top national Democratic Party official, has raised more than $4 million total since he first began exploring a campaign in February.
Harrison's support from beyond South Carolina's borders stands to be significant and continuing. Though Graham is not considered among the most vulnerable GOP senators, taking his seat in 2020 would be monumental for Democrats.
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It won't happen easily.
Graham’s campaign reports that the senator raised $3.3 million in the third quarter, the most money he has garnered in a three-month period and biggest quarterly fundraising total in South Carolina history. Graham now has $8.4 million for his campaign, with much of the money coming from out-of-state donors.
Harrison's bid remains a decided uphill climb, as Graham's biggest political problem in South Carolina previously has come from the right, not the left. He has been criticized here as too liberal for his efforts to work across the aisle on issues such as immigration. Six years ago, in the heyday of the "tea party," he had to overcome GOP primary opposition on the way to a third six-year term.
While Harrison hopes to hang support for Trump around Graham's proverbial neck as an albatross, something will have to change to make that a winning strategy. To date, Trump remains popular in South Carolina.
But, as we stated in June, don't underestimate Harrison.
In 2020, he will have to pursue the dual strategy of mobilizing forces for November with an eye on defeating Trump as much as Graham. That will mean getting every vote he can muster in an election in which pro-Trump, pro-Graham forces will not be taking anything for granted.
Repeating: "To win, he will need unique events to unfold his way and a dynamic not present to date in the politics of the Palmetto State."