Lindsey Graham has been busy ticking off quite a few of the conservative faithful lately, whether it’s attacking Rand Paul or dining with the President. Thus, it’s no surprise if there are rumblings about a primary challenge for his seat next year. But it may come as a surprise to some observers if the challenge comes from the ranks of GOProud’s officers. Enter Bruce Carroll.
It is with mixed feelings that I announce my resignation this morning from the gay conservative group GOProud that I helped found in 2009. I was recently elected Vice Chairman of the organization in order to concentrate on expanding GOProud’s chapters and grassroots strength nationwide.
Last week, speculation grew in South Carolina and on social media outlets about my interest in challenging incumbent US Senator Lindsey Graham who has been in Congress for 18 years.
In the spirit of transparency and honesty, I informed my fellow GOProud board members that I could not dedicate the time to the organization while I seriously considered the effort it will take to challenge Senator Graham in the 2014 Primary.
As Jim Geraghty notes, Carroll – or anyone else for that matter – will have their work cut out for them in terms of even getting a foot in the door.
If Carroll goes forward with this, he will have to complete a Statement of Intention of Candidacy (SIC) form with the state GOP and a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form with the State Ethics Commission. The filing period does not begin until March 16, 2014, and closes March 30.
He will have to submit a filing fee of 1 percent of the annual salary of the office multiplied by the number of years in the term of office (or $100, whichever is greater). This year the salary for a U.S. senator is $174,000, so if it remains the same for 2014, the filing fee will be $10,440.
What’s more, Graham may not be as vulnerable on his home turf as some might suspect.
Last month, Winthrop University published a poll that showed Graham with an approval/disapproval rating of 71.6/17.4 among Republicans. Among all voters it was 58.4/41.6. Those poll numbers came out after the Club For Growth named Graham its top target in 2014.
. . . no South Carolina Senator who served a full term has lost a re-election campaign since Coleman Bease in 1930.
Being the incumbent is not a small advantage, chiefly when it comes to raising money, something that Graham is very good at. Before he’s even officially declared that he’ll seek re-election Graham has at least $4.4 million in his campaign coffers.
Carroll may be facing an uphill battle from the get-go just in demographics. GOProud tends to do a lot better in the Northeast and the mid-west, but in South Carolina? It’s not hard to picture a general reaction of, “Well, sure. But you’re one of those, er… GOProud people, yes?” And even if there wasn’t that sort of hill to climb, the money and the starting name recognition and favorable ratings are pretty daunting.
Graham is still very popular at home. And with that war chest he’s got a powerful cudgel to smack down any attacks from his own flank. In the general election he’s pretty safe providing he doesn’t take off hiking the Appalachian Trail. Anyone who wants to take this fight on had better have all their ducks in a row, because it’s not going to be a cake walk. And if they lose, Graham doubtless will have a long memory.