At a breakfast meeting today in Washington, D.C., Chris Chocola, President of the influential conservative non-profit Club for Growth named South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham as a top target for the group in 2014 elections.
According to Politico, Chocola said, "Graham has not fared well on our score card. But we’ll see what the race is…There’s interest beyond our group in that race.”
Graham scored a 72 (out of 100) in the most recent session of Congress and a 75 for his career, ranking him 38th among all Senators. South Carolina's other Senator, Jim DeMint ranks as the most conservative Senator with a perfect score of 100, according to the Club for Growth. The group believes growth is tied to low taxes and its website states:
"The goal of tax policy should be to raise the amount of money needed to fund legitimate functions of government while doing the least amount of damage to the economy and respecting the principle of treating taxpayers equally."
Graham responded to Chocola's remarks with the following statement issued by spokesman Scott Farmer:
“Senator Graham agrees with the Club for Growth on most issues, but we do have some sharp differences, particularly on Chinese currency manipulation and Ex-Im Bank.
“For years, the Club for Growth has absolutely detested Lindsey Graham’s relentless drive to hold China accountable for its currency manipulation. At one time, the Club for Growth even had a note on their congressional ratings page warning members not to sign onto Senator Graham’s Chinese currency manipulation bill.
“The Club for Growth also opposed his outspoken support for reauthorization of Ex-Im Bank, even though it is an incredibly important issue to thousands of South Carolina workers who produce Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in North Charleston. Eighty percent of the 787's produced in South Carolina will be sold to companies who are eligible for and routinely use Ex-Im financing.
“Senator Graham would love to have a world without Ex-Im Banks, but that world doesn’t exist. He sees no evidence that competitor nations like China are getting out of the Ex-Im business, and he doesn’t believe the United States should unilaterally disarm.
“Senator Graham is currently focused on the massive fiscal problems facing our nation and ensuring the United States remains a strong national security voice in a deteriorating world. He continues to work with the Romney campaign to unseat President Obama, and he's campaigning hard to win a GOP majority in the Senate.
“But come 2014, our campaign will highlight and run aggressively on Senator Graham's distinguished conservative record that reflects South Carolina values.”
Chocola's comments today gave voice to the commonly held sentiment that Graham will be challenged from his right in the primary. The Club for Growth, in conjunction with the DeMint-led Senate Congressional Fund, has been successful in unseating sitting senators they deemed not conservative enough, most notably knocking off Richard Lugar of Indiana this year.
The most likely challenger to Graham is expected to be State Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort, who was a prominent supporter of Ron Paul's presidential candidacy. Davis sent Patch a statement agreeing with the Club for Growth's assessment of Graham:
“The Club for Growth’s decision to target Lindsey Graham in 2014 is hardly surprising. I mean, just look at his record. He voted on numerous occasions to raise the debt ceiling without any corresponding entitlement reforms or spending cuts; supported the taxpayer-funded bailout of Wall Street banks; worked with John Kerry for global warming legislation and centralized control of the energy industry; promoted illegal immigration amnesty; lobbied for the confirmation of liberal justices like Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan; and, just recently, proposed new taxes to prop up more government spending. When Sen. Graham says everything he’s doing is ‘completely opposite of where the Tea Party movement’s at,’ and when he says ‘free speech is a great idea,’ and then supports gags on free speech, well, then he ought to expect strong opposition from those who believe that individual liberty and economic freedom is the very essence of what our nation is, or at least what it once was.”