Lindsey Graham wins in South Carolina — the most expensive Senate race in history

Polls showed a tight race but, South Carolina senator pulls ahead by Election Day

Griffin Connolly
Wednesday 04 November 2020 03:50
2020 election results
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Senator Lindsey Graham has won a fourth term in South Carolina following the most expensive race for the upper chamber in history.

The Associated Press called the race with Mr Graham up 55-43 per cent over his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, with 39 per cent of the expected vote total reported.

Mr Graham framed his campaign as a fortress against Mr Harrison and the Democrats’ “radical” agenda, saying his opponent and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden were Trojan horses for a socialist agenda from left-wing radicals overtaking the more moderate Democratic establishment in Washington.

At the lone South Carolina Senate debate on 3 October, Mr Graham framed the race as a choice between “capitalism versus socialism,” “conservative judges versus liberal judges,” and “law and order versus chaos.”

Mr Harrison had attacked the incumbent for being a serial “flip-flopper,” on everything from his broken commitment not to seat a Supreme Court justice in a presidential election year to to his about-face embracing Mr Trump, who the senator called “a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” during the Republican presidential primaries in 2016.

Mr Harrison raised nearly $109m in the losing effort, the most of any Senate candidate this cycle. Mr Graham raised nearly $75m.

The Supreme Court confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett loomed large over the South Carolina Senate race.

As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr Graham was responsible for shepherding Justice Barrett onto the floor for a final vote, which she received on a party-line 52-48 split.

Mr Graham  made his support for Ms Barrett’s nomination to the high court the focal point of his campaign as he clung to his political life in the state, where many polls in October showed him trailing Mr Harrison.

Sticking up out of the grass from roadsides at what feels like every busy intersection in Charleston, the state’s biggest city, were dozens of “Lindsey Graham for US Senate” signs with the hashtag “#FillTheSeat” in bold lettering underneath.

Mr Graham has said repeatedly since Mr Trump chose Ms Barrett to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg that he has “never been more proud” to support a Supreme Court nominee.

“This is why we all run [for office],” Mr Graham said during Ms Barrett’s confirmation hearings.

“It’s moments like this that make everything you go through matter,” he said.

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