South Carolina’s Republican power brokers are facing a Lindsey Graham dilemma.
Wide-open nominating contests don’t happen every day, and the state’s high-stakes primary offers them a chance to hitch their political fortunes to a rising star, the earlier the better if they’ve made up their minds.
Few believe their senior senator has a real shot at being that nominee, but his operation has worked hard to lock down support in the state, and few Republicans are eager to show their disloyalty by endorsing another candidate too soon.
Welcome to the world of United States Senators who hang around too long. By the time they’ve hit their third terms, their state parties have become their own little fiefdoms and the vassals better be quick with the fealty.
There are rumors that Graham entered the race just to keep Ted Cruz from winning the South Carolina primary. That is a fairly plausible theory given that Graham is as petty as his political life partner John McCain, and that Cruz sees the southern primaries as his key to winning the nomination.
Graham also brings nothing unique to this large field in terms of policy ideas or demographics, so the petty revenge theory becomes even more realistic.
The only real potential upside here is that the South Carolina Republicans who are missing the chance to become players with the eventual nominee may get so disgruntled that they won’t be so friendly to Graham the next time he’s up for re-election, opening the door to a primary challenge.
Kidding-that’s years from now and he will have purged all of them from the state GOP already, like senators do.