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Conservatives Meet to Unite Against Lindsey Graham

SC conservatives, long disillusioned with Lindsey Graham, are trying to put aside their differences to defeat him in 2014.

A sign at the edge of a dirt road at Clemson’s Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia directed drivers to a “Unity Meeting.” At the end of that road, conservative activists met in a conference center next to a small lake. The gathering was not a quarterly or monthly session but was for one intention.

Viewing the walls of the conference center, which were stamped with quotes from Sen. Lindsey Graham, would erase any uncertainty about that intention. Those quotes, according to the meeting’s attendees, were proof of Graham’s betrayal of conservative values. Pulled from 9/12 groups, Tea Party organizations and other conservatives from across South Carolina, approximately 100 activists worked through a full agenda dedicated to uniting for the purpose of defeating Graham in 2014. 

See what popular SC politicians they want to run here.

Since their inception in 2009, Tea Party groups in South Carolina—and the rest of the country—have been both passionate and unwieldy. Building consensus has been something of a problem. The Tea Party’s impact on electoral politics is undeniable, but its inability to coalesce or endorse behind a single candidate—in the name of maintaining its independence—has occasionally been to its detriment. The most obvious example was last year’s presidential race, when conservatives could not choose from Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich as the alternative to Mitt Romney, which ended up splitting the vote and giving the nomination to Romney.

Vote-splitting has occurred in numerous races across the country and left conservatives disappointed. “We can’t be divided anymore,” said one speaker. “We have to have everyone pulling the rope in the same direction.” South Carolina conservatives have reason to believe they can come together. They were essential to Gingrich’s primary victory in January 2012 when Tea Party groups took the unusual step of endorsing the former Speaker.

Others aren’t so sure unity is possible.They will never agree to back one candidate. They'll all want their candidate to be the one,” one activist told Patch.

But Greg Fettig of FreedomWorks, one of the speakers at Saturday’s meeting, said that can be overcome.

Fettig is based in Indiana and was instrumental in helping Richard Mourdock upset then Sen. Richard Lugar in the Republican primary there in 2012.

Lugar and Graham have many similarities: Deep ties to the military, a willingness to work with Democrats and deep campaign pockets.

In the 2010 Indiana Senate race, conservatives split and allowed the moderate Dan Coats to be elected. Fettig wanted to make sure that didn’t happen again in 2012 and was able to unite Hoosier State conservatives behind Mourdock, who was able to defeat Lugar in the primary. Mourdock was on track to win the general election until he committed a gaffe, implying that a pregnancy resulting from rape was God’s will.

Fettig thinks a Mourdock-like upset can occur in South Carolina but he said conservatives must unite behind one candidate and it must be before the primary. If the conservative choice is clear, he said, enough money will come to that candidate to make him or her competitive with Graham, who will start with a base of support of about 40 percent and with millions of dollars in his campaign coffers.

The fly in the ointment in South Carolina for this scenario is the primary process. Having to beat Graham once in a primary will be formidable enough. But having to beat him in a primary and a run-off will be nothing short of insurmountable.

And in South Carolina’s open primary system that is precisely what a challenger to Graham would likely have to face since a candidate can only win a primary with 50 percent of the vote plus one.

Making matters more difficult for a Graham opponent is the open primary system, which allows Democrats to vote for Republicans—and vice versa—which means that many moderate Democrats could very well vote for Graham in a primary.

The Greenville County Republican Party has filed a federal lawsuit asking a court to invalidate the open primary system--a prospect which appears to be a long shot at best.

At Saturday’s meeting, there was very little talk of policy or issues despite the fact that large numbers of Republicans believe that Tea Party candidates are unelectable and Tea Party policy positions are outside the mainstream.

Also absent was the rage or overheated rhetoric that some have used to stereotype the Tea Party. Which is not to say there wasn’t tough talk.

“We’re in a battle here,” said one speaker. “We didn’t win the American Revolution or World War I or World War II by being nice. We have to put our Southern manners away when the time comes.”

Nevertheless, the tone of the meeting was of a maturing political organization, more than one participant called it Tea Party 2.0.
TheSkalawag July 13, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Rusty Inman You articulate the dilemma of the GOP very well. And you give voice to what I hope is the demise of the Tea Party most masterfully.
TheSkalawag July 14, 2013 at 12:02 AM
Time already has the Faux Maverick in its sights.
TheSkalawag July 14, 2013 at 12:10 AM
"Who decided that?" That would be "SC conservatives, long disillusioned with Lindsey Graham...".
David Hennessey July 14, 2013 at 01:41 AM
“We’re in a battle here,” said one speaker. “We didn’t win the American Revolution or World War I or World War II by being nice. We have to put our Southern manners away when the time comes.” Those were wars against our common enemies, how can one American speak about others as though they were declared enemies in mortal combat? Doesn't patriotism, even weak tea, demand unity with your fellow citizens in common destiny? How can they call themselves Americans if they are not one with us, all of us? If they believe they are at war with us, how can they justify this confused notion of citizenship? They say they are not Republicans but they are trying to run the Republican Party, are they Americans or do they just want to run America? There is a name for this.
Shane Patrick July 14, 2013 at 08:17 AM
saying that lindsey graham isn't conservative enough is kind of like saying chernobyl isn't radioactive enough.
Dave July 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM
There is no Democrat and Republican parties anymore. That is the name being used because adding a different name immediately causes the uninformed sheep to think its wrong. What we have is Conservatives and Liberals. On the outside fringes of both are people determined to destroy America. Unfortunately, one party has more sheep than the other and being unable to think for themselves, follow the fringe blindly, speeding the country into destruction at their own blind peril. Not many Conservatives agree with the Republican party policies, therefore the rise in alternate conservative voices. Most Democrats are unable to have an original thought. The end result is the inevitable change to a new government system. God Save America from Socialism.
TheSkalawag July 14, 2013 at 10:40 AM
Shane Patrick the republican party has become radicalized to the point of being maniacal. Their quest for purity is leading them down a path to extinction. If the republican party
Dave July 14, 2013 at 10:44 AM
You're right, Skal. It's called original thought. Something the Democrats aren't capable of. You can only follow the latest ramblings of the insane talking heads at MSNBC, etc. You voted for change with Obama. Be careful what you ask for, the Conservatives may provide it for you.
TheSkalawag July 14, 2013 at 10:59 AM
David Hennessey I don't think that the wars that that speaker was referring to is the war he or she truly has in mind. I believe the speaker wants to re-fight the Civil War hoping for an outcome more in tune to misguided way of thinking . The Tea Party was commandeered by a number of rich people who have their own agenda in mind. And that agenda doesn't have the good of the country at heart. If the republican party is going to survive it will have to find a way to expel the parasite that now feeds upon it twisting and corrupting its values and principles.
TheSkalawag July 14, 2013 at 11:19 AM
Shane Patrick the republican party has become radicalized to the point of being maniacal. Their quest for purity is leading them down a path to extinction. If the republican party is going to continue to exist it will have to find away to rid its self of the tea party before it destroys them.
George Grace July 14, 2013 at 12:35 PM
I'm opposed to Lindsey Graham too but not for the reason the conservatives are. He voted against background checks and tighter gun laws, assault weopns ban. His stance on immigration reform is good although waiting 13 years, after many have been in the country a decade or more, is draconian - so be it if it will help pass the measure.
stanley seigler July 14, 2013 at 04:22 PM
WHAT I [Rusty Inman] read in this article indicates that the Tea Party in South Carolina is maturing...[para] TPer lead the GOPs to immaturing...to those thrilling days of yesterYEAR...1929 and 2008... [para] DAVE say: Most Democrats are unable to have an original thought. The end result is the inevitable change to a new government system. God Save America from Socialism... [para]how about social security, medicare, civil rights, BO-care...any GOPs want to NOT accept SS or medicare... [para] any GOP parent want to NOT keep their child on their health care ins until child reaches 26...any GOP want to allow an ins company the right to deny them heath care b/c of pre existing conditions... [para] dave say: the Conservatives may provide it for you... [para] not worry the GOPs have not provided one program for the general welfare of america (well the interstate)...or perhaps dave can name another...they oppose all original DEM ideas...eg, SS, medicare, BO-care, civil rights (the southern GOPs), etc... [para] BTW BO-care will become as acceptable as medicare has and it is the first step to universal health care...
Dave July 14, 2013 at 05:30 PM
The GOP nor the DEMs should provide anything except infrastructure and protection against foreign invasion. Reliance on the government is what has destroyed this country. Take care of yourselves and your family and you won't have to worry about what the government is/is not doing. Paraphrase all you want, you don't have anything right.
Shawn Drury July 14, 2013 at 06:11 PM
@Rusty - Fair points as always. However, the stereotype exists, warranted in some cases, that this wing of the GOP is driven by rage and fear. That's not the case with the folks I've talked. There is certainly a more clinical tone to their political plan. @Linda - Nationally, the ultra conservative wing of the GOP was roundly rejected at the federal level in November's election. In May's special election in SC1, Mark Sanford, who is plenty conservative, was not endorsed by Liberty groups (he got their support after winning the primary).
Kathy Miller July 14, 2013 at 06:35 PM
Fettig seems to forget that Mourdock ended up being a lousy candidate and he got his butt handed to him in the general. Fettig and Freedomworks have no idea what the grassroots in SC is really all about because they only know the kooks. The kooks don't contribute a dime and they don't do much of anything outside of Facebook and meetings and watching for black helicopters. I would love to see Lindsey get a good challenge but it won't happen with any of the candidates being mentioned.
stanley seigler July 14, 2013 at 07:32 PM
dave SAY: 'The GOP nor the DEMs should provide anything except infrastructure and protection against foreign invasion...' [para] the constitution SAY: 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the GENERAL WELFARE ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'... [para] who you gonna believe dave or the US constitution (the founding fathers)??...bet the SC constitution say similar stuff as do most state constitutions... dave SAY: 'Take care of yourselves and your family and you won't have to worry about what the government is/is not doing...' [para] does this apply to those with disabilities...those who dont have boot straps by which to pull themselves up...disabled veterans...the mentally insane...the biblical least...
stanley seigler July 14, 2013 at 07:44 PM
dave SAY: 'The GOP nor the DEMs should provide anything except infrastructure and protection against foreign invasion...' [para] the constitution SAY: 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the GENERAL WELFARE ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'... [para] who you gonna believe dave or the US constitution (the founding fathers)??...bet the SC constitution say similar stuff as do most state constitutions... dave SAY: 'Take care of yourselves and your family and you won't have to worry about what the government is/is not doing...' [para] does this apply to those with disabilities...those who dont have boot straps by which to pull themselves up...disabled veterans...the mentally insane...the biblical least...
stanley seigler July 14, 2013 at 10:11 PM
dave SAY: 'The GOP nor the DEMs should provide anything except infrastructure and protection against foreign invasion...' [para] the constitution SAY: 'We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the GENERAL WELFARE ... do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.'... [para] who you gonna believe dave or the US constitution (the founding fathers)??...bet the SC constitution say similar stuff as do most state constitutions... dave SAY: 'Take care of yourselves and your family and you won't have to worry about what the government is/is not doing...' [para] does this apply to those with disabilities...those who dont have boot straps by which to pull themselves up...disabled veterans...the mentally insane...the biblical least...
SDR July 15, 2013 at 09:47 AM
@ SS: Promote general welfare, not provide.
TheSkalawag July 15, 2013 at 10:29 AM
Stanley The Dave, as a friend and I call him, much like The Donald doesn't think before speaking and therefore all kinds of unbelievable, un-reasoned foolishness comes out. I try not to respond to him but sometimes the things he says are so absurd that they can't be left un-responded to.
TheSkalawag July 15, 2013 at 10:51 AM
Shawn Dury " Mark Sanford, who is plenty conservative,..." I have to ask is Mark Sanford the face that conservatives really want to put on their party? He cheated on lied to his wife and the people of South Carolina . And he misappropriated funds. Are the majority of people in South Carolina really looking to get the best representation they get or are they putting ideology before their own best interest?
Dave July 15, 2013 at 10:52 AM
You and your mom have given me a special name. Sweet. I have special names you the both of you too. stanley - The founding fathers didn't define WELFARE the same way you do. Taking care of your family includes your entire family, even those with disabilities. I realize you would throw them out and expect the government to take care of them, but most of us with compassion take care of our own without government interference.
rick campbell July 15, 2013 at 11:05 AM
...is this the same gomer pyle who bought a persian rug in iraq in the greenzone....then bragged about his military service?...next thing you know he will be announcing his engagment ...to a woman...
Tom Martin July 16, 2013 at 11:17 PM
We need to unite to vote for Graham in the primary rather than vote in the Democratic primary, which is futile anyway, how can a Democrat win the Senate in this state? We have to prevent another ultraconservative in the Senate. Graham is a conservative, but at least not an ultraconservative.
Frank Zoccola July 21, 2013 at 11:11 AM
What a shame. I am not fond about most polititians in SC. They rank along with Goober, but Senator Graham in my opinion is the only shining light.. a true patriot. The person who said he bragged about his military service is a disgusting piece of humanity. What military service have you had or do you gdo around playing with your loaded guns and pretend.
William J. Hamilton July 22, 2013 at 10:41 AM
“We didn’t win the American Revolution or World War I or World War II by being nice. We have to put our Southern manners away when the time comes.” As a Democrat, I don't think is is appropriate to equate people like me with the Nazis in WWII. I consider myself a patriotic American. I understand the Tea Party does not. It was precisely statements like these which has forced me to ramp up my political involvement. Despite what people like Sarah Palin say, I am a "real" American.
rick campbell July 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM
to frank zacolo?...or whatever?...i spent 12 years on board nuclear submarines and i am a retired disabled american naval veteran....i will put my service....my mouth....and my intelligence in front of any chicken hawk like your self or lindsey lu-lu ANYTIME...surrounded by armed guards visiting a Green zone flea market to buy a persian rug, DOES not MAKE YOU ANY KIND OF WAR HERO...at least to real americans anyway...
Dr. John July 26, 2013 at 07:33 AM
The past wives of all of these women can also say they sympathize with Huma. I give you the all-star democrat infidelity list for the democrat party, "the party of family values". Elliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Bill Clinton, David Wu, Kwame Kilpatrick, David Patterson, Antonio Villaraigosa, Marc Dan, Paul Morrison, Gary Condit, Tim Mohoney, Rosevelt Dobbins, Jim McGreevy, Bob Wise, Paul, Mel Reynolds, Paul Patton, Brock Adams, Chuck Robb, Barney Frank, Gary Hart, Jerry Studs, Fred Richmond, John Andrew Young, Allen Howe, Wayne Hayes, Gavin Newsome and Gavin Newsome. I think what Jenny is saying is that she is sorry that Mark Sanford acted like a democrat in office. Compared to this crowd, Anthony Weiner is a piker.
Shawn Drury July 26, 2013 at 09:25 AM
@Dr. John -- I think you commented on the wrong story.
Dr. John July 26, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Yes, tried to delete and post on right story but the post would not delete? Sorry...

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