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Lindsey Graham’s 2014 Challengers: Who Will Emerge?



U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.) is confident a credible challenger will not emerge against him prior to next year’s Republican primary election, several of his top supporters tell FITS. However that’s not stopping them from opining on the names floated as potential primary challengers …

FITS spoke this week with three prominent Graham supporters – and texted with a fourth – and all but one of them agreed Graham will coast to reelection against token opposition next June.

“Too much money, too much experience and no credible candidate is willing to run against him,” one of Graham’s biggest supporters told us. “That spells an easy victory for us – 2008 all over again.”

All four politicos were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about the upcoming race.

“(U.S. Rep.) Mick Mulvaney could have given him a battle. (S.C. Senator) Tom Davis could have given him a battle,” another Graham advisor told us. “But they looked at the money and the numbers and wisely took a pass. What does that tell you? He’s unbeatable. He will draw another Buddy Witherspoon and dispatch him without breaking a sweat.”

But is that the dynamic that’s really unfolding? Or is one of Graham’s three presumed challengers capable of giving him a run for his (mountain of special interest) money?

One of Graham’s advisors took a decidedly different approach to the coming campaign – arguing that Lowcountry businesswoman Nancy Mace poses a serious threat to his reelection bid in the event she emerges as the “anti-Graham.”

Nancy Mace

Nancy Mace

“Lindsey Graham should be very, very concerned about Nancy Mace in my opinion,” the operative said. “If I’m him, she’s the one I’m most worried about – for a couple of reasons.”

According to this advisor, Mace is much better equipped than Graham’s other two presumed opponents – S.C. Sen. Lee Bright and social conservative Richard Cash – to take advantage of a uniquely “Palmetto” phenomenon.

What’s he referring to?

“Namely, the environment of the craziness and the flash-mob political identity of South Carolina – that I can prove to you as it relates to Newt Gingrich’s win in 2012 and Nikki Haley’s win in 2010,” the operative said. “There is something in our psyche here – Republican voters, we’re unpredictable. We’re emotional. How else do you explain Gingrich’s victory? Or the fact Nikki Haley is our governor? It was an emotional response.”

But why would these attributes accrue to Mace’s benefit more than the other candidates?

“In my mind she has the sense, the savvy, the political acumen – and she’s different, which makes a difference,” the operative explained. “Nancy has that Nikki Haley swagger – she’s got ‘it,’ she’s got the story, she is the package. She commands attention – owns a room. Lee Bright is not going to be able to walk into the offices of the Club for Growth or Freedomworks – he’s not going to be able to walk into those places and convince them he’s their guy – Nancy Mace is.”

“You combine her, her story and a couple of million bucks – that’s dangerous,” the consultant said.

Graham’s other advisors agree Mace has the potential to be a credible candidate – but they doubt whether she can overcome what one termed a “total lack of political and campaign experience” in time to make a run at Graham.

“She has a future – the question is does she have a present,” one mused. “And the bigger question: Does she have a present at this level – against arguably the most skilled politician in Washington, D.C. The United States Senate isn’t something you do on a whim. And Lindsey Graham isn’t somebody you challenge without expecting the fight of your life in return.”

But what would Graham’s forces use to attack Mace?

“You,” one told our founding editor Will Folks (a.k.a. Sic Willie), a reference to her prior affiliation with this website. “I think the church-going, family values image she’s out there cultivating in the Upstate among other places will take a hit when people realize she peddled porn in her spare time.”

FITS is porn? Really?

Interestingly, the advisor said Graham likely wouldn’t have to raise that issue on his own.

“There are two strong social conservatives running for this seat – and their enemy right now isn’t Lindsey Graham, it’s Nancy Mace,” the advisor said.

Wow … buckle your seat belts, South Carolina. Another brutal GOP primary season is about to unfold.