Back in August, I detailed the emerging tight race between Lindsey Graham and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. Last week, the South Carolina senator hinted at just how tight his re-election campaign has become when he pleaded with Fox News viewers for donations.
In two appearances last Thursday, Graham made his pitch for contributions to “Fox & Friends” and Sean Hannity, telling Hannity’s viewers, “Help me. They’re killing me moneywise. Help me. You did last week. Help me again.”
After being scheduled to talk about the Senate report on Hunter Biden rather than his campaign, Graham also made a direct appeal on “Fox & Friends,” where he said, as quoted by the Washington Post, “My opponent will raise almost $100 million. I’m being killed financially. This money is ’cause they hate my guts.”
The Associated Press reported a few weeks ago that Graham’s challenger, Jaime Harrison, had raised more than $30 million. The haul included two separate days with million-dollar totals after favorable polls were released.
Harrison told supporters that Graham’s plea shows that the senator “realized he’s going to lose on November 3rd.
In mid-August, Graham was still up by seven points in polling but more recent polls show a tie race. Two separate Quinnipiac polls one from July and another from mid-September, showed an tie. A third poll from CBS News showed Graham with a one-point lead at 45 percent. Interestingly, Graham is polling behind Donald Trump who averages a six-point lead in polling since July. Both Republicans are polling worse than their last elections.
Jaime Harrison is running as a moderate. The graduate of Yale and Georgetown Law, who is black, hit the airwaves in April with biographical ads in which he introduced himself to voters before Graham could define him.
Graham, on the other hand, is struggling to overcome his RINO reputation and the perception that he is too close to Trump. Graham also made an embarrassing gaffe last spring when he vowed that the $600 enhanced unemployment payment would only be extended “over our dead bodies.”
The Supreme Court confirmation battle will also shine a spotlight on Graham, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The attention may not be helpful.
In March 2016 as the debate over Merrick Garland was heating up, Graham said, “I want you to use my words against me. If there’s a Republican president in 2016 and a vacancy occurs in the last year of the first term, you can say Lindsey Graham said, let’s let the next president, whoever it might be, make that nomination, and you could use my words against me and you’d be absolutely right.”
If that sound bite isn’t already being broadcast around the Palmetto State on ads for Jaime Harrison, it will be soon.
I wouldn’t bet on Graham losing his seat, but 2020 is shaping up to be an ugly year for Republicans. Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball both still rate the race as “lean Republican,” but Graham is definitely struggling to stay afloat and it looks increasingly likely the race could go either way.
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