Fiscally liberal incumbent Lindsey Graham isn’t trying to win his 2014 Republican primary election in South Carolina. Far from it.
What is he trying to do? Fundamentally redefine the way GOP primary races are run in the Palmetto State … and every state which permits “open” primary elections (or primaries in which non-registered “Republicans” can vote).
Graham, who has a $7 million war chest at his disposal, has reportedly hired an out-of-state firm to run what one national consultant called “the most sophisticated voter identification and turnout platform ever implemented at the state level.”
According to a source familiar with the project, Graham’s team is assembling “an army” of precinct captains all across the state – operatives who will organize their neighborhoods using voter profile data from a custom database.
Their mission? To identify and turn out Democrats and left-leaning independents who don’t typically vote in GOP primaries – as well as “centrists” and left-leaning “Republicans” who do.
“They have over 1,000 precinct captains already lined up,” a source familiar with Graham’s effort tells FITS. “More are coming online every day. They are building a machine.”
Graham’s campaign did not respond to our request for comment on the operation. Graham’s consultant, Richard Quinn, also did not respond to our request for comment.
One national operative said Graham’s massive grassroots mobilization effort was akin to “a candidate creating a new party” – although our SCGOP sources were quick to dispute this characterization, choosing instead to refer to the operation as a “unique primary focused infrastructure.”
Whatever you want to call it … it’s the reason Graham hasn’t done what he usually does prior to a primary election, which is tack to the right of the ideological spectrum. Instead Graham has pressed the accelerator down and made a beeline toward the left.
“He’s basically saying ‘Screw the SCGOP, I’m going to build my own constituency,'” our national source explained.
Graham’s support among GOP primary voters has weakened considerably in recent months – with polls showing favorable conditions for an upset. That isn’t surprising considering Graham has backed tax hikes, domestic spying, war with Syria and – most recently – budgets that fully fund Obamacare.
Three Republicans have announced their candidacies against Graham in the 2014 primary – S.C. Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg), Charleston businesswoman Nancy Mace and Upstate social conservative businessman Richard Cash. Combined, the three candidates only have about $500,000 in their campaign war chests.