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Wed Feb 19, 2020, 02:39 PM

Inside the Fight to Topple Lindsey Graham--and Trump's Senate Majority

It would be a delicious topping on the cake to get rid of stinking slimy Graham!



Inside the Fight to Topple Lindsey Graham—and Trump’s Senate Majority
Does Jaime Harrison have the blueprint for winning back the South?


Kara VoghtMarch/ April 2020 Issue


......................A day later, Jaime Harrison, Graham’s likely Democratic opponent this fall, entered the tiny, cinder block–walled dining hall at Clinton College, a small, Christian, historically black school in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Wearing gray dress pants and a black V-neck sweater, his head shaved bare, Harrison stood before a row of square laminate bistro tables, where two dozen students, mostly from the school’s student government, drum line, and cheer team, sat waiting to hear him speak.

But when the 44-year-old Harrison did, he made scant mention of his opponent. Instead, as the smell of greasy breakfast hung in the air, Harrison asked the students about their passions and majors, encouraging them to find mentors who could help yoke the two together into a career. Harrison didn’t say much about national politics, alighting on it for only a few minutes as he connected the dots between voting, policy in Washington, and the student loan burdens many in the room would soon carry.

“Part of my thing is taking advantage of the opportunity,” Harrison tells me afterward in his baritone Southern lilt. “It’s not every day [that students meet] a younger politician who understands the same trials and tribulations that these kids are going through.”

At first blush, Harrison’s meet-them-where-they-are approach might look like a misstep when running against such a prominent—and lately notorious—DC figure. Over three terms in the Senate, Graham had cultivated a reputation as a staunch conservative who delivered bipartisan agreements on immigration and climate change—part of his identity as self-described “political wingman” to Arizona Sen. John McCain. (McCain had affectionately referred to his close ally as “Little Jerk.”)

But three years into the Trump presidency, Graham, who said during the 2016 election that he wished Republicans had kicked Trump out of the party, has become one of the president’s main sycophants. The reversal has earned him a particularly brutal impersonation from Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon, whose sweaty Graham explains in a recent sketch that “even my bodily fluids are trying to distance themselves from me.”

There’s a method to Graham’s about-face. Surfing political trends is part of it: As the Republican base gravitated toward Trump, Graham followed suit. But maybe it’s more about Graham’s desire to remain close to power;
a Republican strategist recently likened him to a “pilot fish” in Rolling Stone—“a smaller fish that hovers about a larger predator, like a shark, living off of its detritus.” Put more generously: “It’s better to be at the table than on the table,” says Matt Moore, former chair of the South Carolina Republican Party.

But Graham is also contending with a South Carolina that’s tinging bluer. ................................................



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