According to sources in South Carolina and within the Tea Party, at least two serious challenges to Graham are expected to emerge in the next few weeks. Dustin Stockton, a leading conservative activist and head of Western PAC, told The Daily Beast that he is headed to South Carolina next month to help build a ground game for the 2014 primary.
Knocking off Graham, said Stockton, who helped defeat establishment candidates in Alaska and Nevada in 2010, was this year’s top Tea Party priority.
“The Lindsey Graham wing of the party,” he said, stands for “saying one thing and doing another, creating backroom deals, getting elected, and not doing anything.”
Richard Cash, a businessman and former South Carolina congressional candidate, announced his candidacy in April.
But Tea Party types are looking to coalesce around either Lee Bright, a Spartanburg state senator, or Nancy Mace, a public-relations executive.
Bright told The Daily Beast that he is looking to make an announcement in the coming weeks.
“My voting record in the state Senate is very similar to what Jim DeMint did in the U.S. Senate,” he said, referring to the hard-right former senator who resigned this year to lead the Heritage Foundation. “It is more of a match with conservative values in South Carolina. I just don’t think Graham is in touch with the people of South Carolina. He is more enamored of the national media than he is doing what South Carolinians would like to see him do.”
Nationally, Graham has been a frequent target of conservative ire for being willing to make deals with Democrats. And he has done nothing to endear himself to the right with his recent efforts to pass immigration reform and his outspoken criticism of Rand Paul’s filibuster on the use of drones.
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