Saturday’s debate between the 2, during which Harrison nailed Graham to the wall with Graham’s personal bare hypocrisy and lies about how he’d deal with a Supreme Court docket nomination within the ultimate 12 months of President Donald Trump’s time period, additional solidified that actuality. “Be a man,” Harrison mentioned as he scolded Graham on his try and downplay his flip flop.

As a result of he is the incumbent, Graham ought to nonetheless be thought of the favourite, however solely barely. Harrison’s problem is actual. Do not feel unhealthy in case you did not anticipate that risk. Many people who have been born and raised right here and have been reporting on the politics of the Palmetto State for the previous couple of a long time did not both.

Do not get me fallacious. This risk was unexpected not as a result of Graham was thought of invincible or due to our standing as a deep pink, Deep South state. It certainly wasn’t as a result of Harrison is not certified or that Graham has earned one other time period. Harrison is and Graham hasn’t.

Harrison’s presence on the poll additionally helps the South Carolina Democratic Celebration regain its luster in a state that has virtually at all times voted for Republicans in statewide races for the reason that late Nineties. A decade in the past, the state social gathering was a laughingstock when a person named Alvin Green — who had no political expertise and no marketing campaign equipment to talk of — received its Senate nomination to face then-Sen. Jim DeMint, a Republican, and received totally trounced on the poll field and trashed by late-night speak present hosts.

Once I sat down with Harrison for a 30-minute interview within the early months of the race within the spring of 2019 — we met at Huge Mike’s, a soul meals restaurant in Myrtle Seaside that was additionally visited by the likes of Kamala Harris throughout the Democratic primaries — it was clear he understood the state’s political panorama effectively.

This was lengthy earlier than we had heard of one thing known as Covid-19 and earlier than President Trump was impeached. Harrison spoke eloquently about how his humble-beginnings background, elite increased schooling and work within the non-public sector and politics ready him for this second. He was cautious to speak about holding Trump to account for his abuses of energy whereas not turning into hyperbolic. He articulated the necessity for racial justice whereas steadfast in a conviction that we attain throughout the aisle and embrace everybody. He did not serve up pink meat for many who need Trump despatched to jail and tried to stay centered on his {qualifications} and imaginative and prescient for the state — whereas explaining why it was time for Graham to go.

Harrison did the identical throughout his debate with Graham. Each males emphasised their capacity to work throughout the aisle, however Harrison shortly known as out Graham for calling liberals “nuts” and “radical.” Harrison’s resolution to convey his personal plexiglass divider, to guard himself from the coronavirus and underscore the other ways Democrats and Republicans have responded to the pandemic, additionally stood out. (I believe Democrats want Joe Biden had finished the identical throughout his debate with Trump.)
The reality is, although, that Harrison is capitalizing on what might quantity to one of many greatest political miscalculations by an incumbent in our state over the previous quarter of a century: Graham’s full embrace of Trump. Apparently he believed his best, surest highway to reelection ran by means of ardent Trump supporters — which is why at Saturday’s debate he talked about conservative judges, capitalism vs. socialism and mentioned Democratic management of Washington can be a “nightmare scenario.”
It appears as if he is disregarded the center-left and center-right residents who make up an necessary contingent of South Carolina voters and are not wedded to both social gathering. These voters have been comfy voting for former reasonable Democrats who grew to become reasonable Republicans when the GOP started dominating state politics, like state Sen. Luke Rankin of Myrtle Beach.

Graham, whose political profession spans 25 years, is aware of there’s a large divide between that group and essentially the most passionate Trump voters. He is aware of his status within the state had lengthy been one as a statesman, as a lot a straight-talker as his outdated buddy, the late Sen. John McCain. He is aware of an incredible portion of his earlier help got here not simply from individuals who agreed together with his conservative bona fides however those that believed he would inform the reality and put nation earlier than social gathering at important moments, even when it meant jeopardizing his personal political future. I do know as a result of I used to be one of many voters who believed Graham. I now not do. Graham is now not that man — that is if he ever was.

His picture on this state is now of a person who’s crude, crass and calculating. He’s both playacting now to draw Trump voters or was pretending to be a person of character for all these years earlier than Trump grew to become president.

Graham had appeared a person of conviction, of honor. It made it simpler to disregard political disagreements with him as a result of he had satisfied us his want to be in Washington was extra about his love for the residents of his dwelling state than a thirst for energy. He has now determined to shatter that picture right into a thousand items — simply to the touch the hem of Trump’s garment. That call may cost a little him every little thing. And it ought to.

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