Primary over, Harrison challenges Sen. Graham to debates

Full Screen
1 / 4

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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.With his defeat of three little-known GOP challengers behind him, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is officially embarking on the next phase of his quest for a fourth term: a general election matchup with Democrat Jaime Harrison already on pace to become the most expensive in South Carolina history.

And, just hours after Graham’s victory in Tuesday’s GOP primary, Harrison laid down a challenge to the veteran lawmaker, asking him to participate in a series of four debates across South Carolina, including one at a historically black college or university.

“All South Carolinians deserve the opportunity to hear from their candidates for U.S. Senate,” Harrison wrote in a letter to Graham.

Harrison faced no primary opposition on Tuesday. Graham, 64, bested fellow Republicans Duke Buckner, Michael Lapierre and Joe Reynolds in Tuesday’s primary election. Two Libertarians and one Constitution Party candidate 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.

Following his victory, Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was “just getting warmed up” for the November election, which he said would “provide voters with a stark choice between the Democrats’ socialist agenda or security and prosperity through free enterprise and security.”

On Tuesday, the 44-year-old Harrison congratulated Graham but said 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.”

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.