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REAL? OR HOLLOW?

To read the mainstream media accounts, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (RINO-S.C.) is surging into November’s general election after “easily” claiming the GOP nomination for a third term in the U.S. Senate.

Oh … and the mainstream media didn’t bother to mention Graham’s likely third party challenger, Lowcountry businessman and reality TV star Thomas Ravenel.

True, Graham finished exactly where the polls said he would – at 56 percent of the “Republican” primary vote.

But is that “victory” as compelling as the establishment-friendly legacy press would have you believe?

“Graham spent $4 million and had a gaggle of opponents who together barely raised and spent $1 million,” one veteran Washington, D.C. consultant told FITS. ” He had virtually the entire state GOP establish shilling for him and yet all he could get was 170,000 votes.  It shows a weakness that is breathtaking.”

The consultant added that historically low GOP turnout in this year’s primary shows a voting public that is “isolated and alienated.”

“They are open to a third way,” the consultant said.

With his good looks, limitless resources, pre-existing statewide name recognition and mile-wide libertarian streak, can Ravenel emerge as that “third way?”

Graham advisors moved quickly to answer that question with an emphatic “no.”

“He showed his ass – literally and in every other way imaginable – on a weekly basis on national television,” one Graham advisor told FITS. “Thomas Ravenel is an embarrassment to South Carolina.”

Graham’s problem? There are bound to be plenty of female voters who liked  Ravenel’s backside … not to mention plenty of male and female voters who appreciate his fiscal conservatism. And unlike the “gaggle” of low-budget primary opponents Graham faced, Ravenel can go toe-to-toe with Graham on what is presumed to be his strongest issue – foreign policy.

Add it all up and Ravenel has the potential to be a very credible third party challenger. That’s why Graham’s campaign is already devoting extensive resources toward combatting his bid – conducting push polling against Ravenel and preparing a team of attorneys to challenge any signatures that may be submitted on his behalf to the S.C. Election Commission.

Graham’s consultants are also pushing the narrative that Ravenel’s presumptive candidacy is a personal vendetta – retribution for Graham’s alleged involvement in facilitating the 2007 drug bust that brought Ravenel down at a time when he appeared poised to defeat Graham in a race for the U.S. Senate.