If you read the conservative blogosphere you might be led to believe that Lindsey Graham is facing certain defeat in his re-election bid next year. The only question is which Republican will beat him—Lee Bright, Richard Cash or Nancy Mace.
Of course, many parts of this same blogosphere are still reeling from the fact that neither Ron Paul nor Rick Santorum was able to beat Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.
The fact is elections are not won or lost on the Internet and defeating Graham—in a primary or a general election—is a daunting, if not impossible task thanks to his sizable war chest and broad popularity throughout the state.
Among Cash, Bright and Mace, only Cash has officially declared his candidacy. Bright, a state senator from Spartanburg County, appears set to announce his challenge any day now.
Of her own potential candidacy Mace only says, “I feel like I’m sitting in the caboose of a freight train that is leaving the station.”
Over the past few months, Mace has been doing the things that people do before they run for office—speaking to civic groups, talking to potential donors, writing op-eds and appearing on talk radio.
All three of Graham’s rivals will face the struggle of low name ID. But it is Mace who would seem to have the best chance to be clear that hurdle.
On Monday, she was in the Upstate—speaking to civic groups and talking to potential donors and building her name ID.
For Mace, the trip was a chance to quite literally introduce herself to potential voters since they know very little about her other than she was the first female student to graduate from The Citadel.
Many of the voters Mace met with were part of the initial Tea Party wave in 2010. They have since grown disaffected with the state GOP in particular and the status quo in general. Many of them supported a motion to censure former state chair Chad Connelly and they did little to hide their distaste for Graham.
At a lunchtime meeting at Wade’s in Spartanburg, one man said, “I’ll vote for a baboon before I vote for Lindsey Graham.”
Jim Lee, a committeeman with the Greenville GOP, offered criticism of Graham and the direction of the party in more measured tones.
Lee said, “I wanted to hear what Mace said to the aggrieved portions of our party and what can be done to change the current state of affairs.”
At each of the stops Mace was asked about a variety of issues. During the day, news broke that the Supreme Court had overturned the portion of Arizona’s immigration law that allowed police officers to ask for identification, so immigration questions were predominant. But voters were also interested in her thoughts on how the economy can become more business-friendly.
Mace acknowledged that she is still working through her positions on policy, but said, “I feel like we are at a crossroads in the Republican Party. We are fractured and we need to come together. We need to decide if we are going to take the road we’ve always taken, or if, as Robert Frost said, we should take the road less traveled.”
Mace is aware of the task ahead of her should she make it official and run. Graham will have an overwhelming fundraising advantage, a better command of the issues and near-universal name recognition.
“Of course it will be a challenge (to get elected), but I do think it’s time we had someone in Washington who is representing the will of the people rather than special interests and elites,” she said.