Yet South Carolina tea partiers admit that chances are good Graham will face no serious opponent. “Lindsey Graham’s got an easy path to reelection,” glumly admits Colin Lindell, founder of the Palmetto State’s Aiken County Tea Party. “People would love to see someone challenge him, but the problem is there is no real serious contender who can gather the support.”
“There’s nobody viable to go up against him,” agrees Allan Olson who founded the Columbia Tea Party. (He is no longer an active member, but he remains a tea partier.) “He’s got too much of a war chest,” Olson adds. Indeed, Graham has already collected approximately $4.5 million.
Graham’s war chest is one reason state tea partiers are dubious about the chances that state senator Lee Bright — who is reportedly considering running — can mount a successful candidacy. “He would absolutely vote correctly,” says Spartanburg Tea Party organizer Karen Martin, “but I’m just not sure that he has the fundraising capability.” Martin, for her part, is holding out hope that a Graham alternative — perhaps someone from the private sector — will emerge in upcoming months.