An angry Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bemoaned that he’s “getting killed” financially in his reelection bid, complaining about money his challenger is raising from people who “hate my guts.”
The three-term incumbent likely was exaggerating. But Harrison reportedly raised about $9 million in the 72 hours after the death late last week of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (in his comments on Fox, Graham put the figure at $6 million).
Ginsburg’s death has heightened the stakes in the already hugely consequential election. And Graham, as chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is in the middle of the controversy sparked by the Republican push to confirm a Ginsburg replacement before the next president takes, even though he and other GOP leaders kept President Barack Obama from filling a high court vacancy in February 2016 because the White House was up for grabs later that year.
The last official campaign finance reports for the South Carolina race showed Graham with an edge. He had raised $29 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings in late June, with Harrison having taken in $28 million. As of the end of that month, Graham reported $15 million in cash reserves, compared with Harrison’s $10.2 million.
In his Thursday comment, Graham said, “I’m being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”
In predicting Harrison would end up with $100 million in contributions, he said, “The most money ever spent in the history of the state on a Senate race in this state was by me in 2014, when I spent $13 million.”
Graham had floated his short-of-cash lament earlier this week on Fox News, pleading for donations. His complaint Thursday sent “Lindsey Is Losing” trending on Twitter.
Polls show that Graham finds himself in a surprising fight for his political life in a solidly red state that President Donald Trump won by 14 percentage points in 2016. Political handicappers still favor Graham to win ― 1998 was the last time a Democrat won a Senate seat in South Carolina. But a Harrison victory would deal a major blow to the GOP hopes of maintaining its Senate majority.
Graham long had been known as a staunch ally and close friend of the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had a famously contentious relationship with Trump. And Graham, during his short-lived run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, had regularly berated Trump, calling him a “kook,” “crazy” and “unfit for office.”
But even before McCain’s death in August 2018, Graham had transformed into a Trump loyalist, becoming for many the embodiment of the willingness of Republican lawmakers to kowtow to the president, regardless of his transgressions.
Graham is being particularly pummeled now for his hypocritical reversal on the move to fill a Supreme Court vacancy when a presidential election looms.
He also recently saw a political barb he directed at Harrison backfire. He mocked the Democrat for not releasing his tax returns ― only to have Harrison quickly do so. More broadly, Graham opened himself to ridicule on the tax issue, given Trump’s steadfast refusal to follow tradition and release his returns.
Twitter critics on Thursday celebrated Graham’s pain, with a number vowing to donate — again — to Harrison.