Filed Under:

Senate Decisions Could Put Lindsey Graham's Seat At Risk

Play associated audio

It seems Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has done his best in recent weeks to get as much ink as possible, talking about things that play well with the conservatives in his home state of South Carolina, like Benghazi and gun rights.

Graham also held up the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary to get more answers about what happened in Benghazi, even as he admitted Hagel had nothing to do with it. But his opposition might have more to do with home state politics than the nomination itself.

Republican senators who have shown moderate leanings have been hit with primary challenges from the right recently, and while no serious challenger has emerged yet in South Carolina, there are a whole lot of people hoping one does.

"There are some legitimate concerns to be asked about Benghazi ... [and] Chuck Hagel," says Tom Davis, a Republican state senator in South Carolina. "That being said, I do think it is fair to say that there has been a conscious effort on the part of Sen. Graham to elevate his role in those debates."

Davis says that masks votes Graham has taken that conflict with small-government ideals. Graham voted for the bank bailout, once worked on climate change legislation and voted for the recent fiscal cliff deal that allowed taxes to rise on the wealthiest Americans.

"All of those things have caused individuals to wonder whether or not [Graham] is representative of the type of conservative or the type of Republican that we need in Washington, D.C., right now," he says.

For a while, Davis was discussed as a possible primary challenger, but he bowed out to focus on his agenda as a state senator.

Bill Storey, a retired engineer in South Carolina, says he's not too pleased with the company Graham keeps.

"I am not a fan of John McCain and never have been, and [Graham] allies too much with McCain I think," Storey says.

Graham is widely praised for his constituent services, and his campaign war chest is formidable. He already has $4 million cash on hand, and that is why political consultant Chip Felkel doesn't think Graham has much to worry about.

"He may have opposition from some corners on the right, but at the end of the day it's going to be more talk and less walk," Felkel says.

So far, the conservative Club for Growth, a political action committee often a king-maker in Republican primaries, is still just watching South Carolina.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit


No Meekness Here: Meet Rosa Parks, 'Lifelong Freedom Fighter'

As the 60th anniversary of the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott approaches, author Jeanne Theoharis says it's time to let go of the image of Rosa Parks as an unassuming accidental activist.

Internet Food Culture Gives Rise To New 'Eatymology'

Internet food culture has brought us new words for nearly every gastronomical condition. The author of "Eatymology," parodist Josh Friedland, discusses "brogurt" with NPR's Rachel Martin.
WAMU 88.5

World Leaders Meet For The UN Climate Change Summit In Paris

World leaders meet for the UN climate change summit in Paris to discuss plans for reducing carbon emissions. What's at stake for the talks, and prospects for a major agreement.


What Is Li-Fi And When Will You Use It To Download Everything Faster?

Li-Fi is a lot like Wi-Fi, but it uses light to transmit data. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to the man who invented the faster alternative: Harald Haas.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.