Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, took on the toughest challenge of his career on Tuesday, prompting a Democratic comeback backed by a record attack of campaign money to win a fourth state, according to the Associated Press.
The victory reassured the tense Republicans, who this fall were forced to divert tens of millions of dollars from the main battlefields into an ultra-conservative nation to save Mr. Graham. It also dashed the hopes of Democrats who believed that a victory for their candidate, Jaime Harrison, would improve their chances of grabbing the majority in the Senate.
Mr. Harrison, a black Democrat whose start-up campaign carried a boost to progressives across the country, was the second African-American elected to the Senate since Reconstruction.
In the end, however, Mr. Graham, chair of the influential Judicial Committee, relied heavily on his standing in Washington to advance. A few days before the election, he helped achieve a unique victory for the Conservatives, pinning Judge Amy Connie Barrett to the Supreme Court, using partisan fighting in the Senate to bolster his campaign. He also benefited from a close relationship with President Trump, who easily led the country on Tuesday.
“To those who follow this race from afar, I hope you understand the message,” declared Mr. Graham the Victor Tuesday night in Colombia. “This is the message I got: People love what I do, and I’ll keep doing it.”
He added, “When it comes to Lindsey Graham and the Graham team, the best is yet to come.”
Mr. Graham, aged 65, has been a staple in Washington since the 1990s, when he was first elected to the House of Representatives, and is known for being an intelligent and effective political messenger.
He avoided making his fight against Mr. Harrison personal. Instead, he attacked his Democratic opponent as a general liberal whose political preferences about health care, spending, and judges were not closely aligned with the conservative state.
But recent results suggest that Mr. Graham’s standing has also taken a major hit in the state since he last ran in 2014. Prior to his re-election this time, the senator made a major political shift, sidelining his reputation as a moderate at bargaining. Who once described Mr. Trump as a “xenophobic and sweaty religious fanatic” to present himself as a conservative warrior standing to the right of the President. The shift appeared to alienate some moderate Republicans who were arrested by the president, even after he failed to convince some of his most conservative supporters.
Mr. Harrison attempted to exploit those divisions, portraying Mr. Graham as an ethically hacker politician willing to do whatever it took to win. More than $ 86 million in contributions poured in – a record for a Senate race fueled by out-of-state liberals who hated Mr. Graham – Mr. Harrison covered the state with ads that not only boosted his candidacy but also boosted Bill Bledsoe, the constitutional party candidate who was He hopes to draw the conservative vote away from Mister Graham.
This has not proven sufficient. Harrison simply couldn’t find enough South Carolina residents to vote for a Democrat.
“Tonight just slowed us down,” said Mr. Harrison Tuesday night in a concession speech. “But a new South with leaders who reflect society and serve everyone’s interests will be here soon enough.” He urged Mr. Graham to develop his independent streak.
If he had a chance to do so, it almost certainly ended in the weeks after Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg died in mid-September. In 2018, Mr. Graham’s fiery defense of Judge Brett Kavanaugh against charges of briefly sexual assault made a conservative rock star.
This time, as chair of the judiciary, he had a microphone and shone in the spotlight at nationwide televised hearings to present himself as an ally of conservative women and remind party voters of what was at stake. He can credibly claim to be a crucial force in cementing the conservative majority on the court that Republicans have long made a priority.
Now, Mr. Graham will have six more years in Washington. In the weeks leading up to Election Day, Mr. Graham hinted that he might try to regain his independent streak if reelected. And with the prospect of defeating Mr. Trump, he will be in a position to play a key role in determining his party’s path going forward.