Sen. Graham defeats 3 GOP challengers in quest for 4th term

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Chairman Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., smiles during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, June 9, 2020, to examine COVID-19 fraud, focusing on law enforcement's response to those exploiting the pandemic. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

COLUMBIA, S.C. – COLUMBIA, S.C.In the next step of a race already on pace to become the most expensive in South Carolina history, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has defeated three little-known GOP challengers, the last marker ahead of a general election face-off with Democrat Jaime Harrison.

Graham, 64, bested fellow Republicans Duke Buckner, Michael Lapierre and Joe Reynolds in Tuesday’s primary election. Harrison was unopposed in his primary, and two Libertarians and one Constitution Party candidate have also filed to seek the seat.

Graham’s popularity among Republicans in his home state has recently fluctuated along with his relationship to President Donald Trump, who is supporting his reelection bid and campaigned with him in the state in February. A year ago, all of South Carolina’s statewide-elected officials endorsed Graham, as has Vice President Mike Pence, who helped kick off Graham’s reelection campaign last year.

The 44-year-old Harrison, an associate chairman with the Democratic National Committee and former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, has from the start aimed to draw national attention. That has helped him to spur the fundraising and grassroots organizing that is crucial to flipping a Senate seat in the deeply red state.

He received backing from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee last spring and has since gotten support from former Vice President and presumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, as well as former 2020 hopefuls U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

On Tuesday, Harrison congratulated Graham on his victory and expressed excitement for the general election campaign, saying in a news release that South Carolina voters are “fed up with Lindsey taking this seat for granted, and they are demanding a senator who will put their needs ahead of his own."

State Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick said GOP stalwarts were “ready and eager” to work to defeat Harrison.

Both Graham and Harrison have posted record-setting fundraising hauls in recent quarters. Over the course of the campaign, Harrison has raised nearly $15 million. Graham has taken in a total of $21 million, according to Federal Election Commission records.