South Carolina’s Tea Party leaders are taking aim at incumbent Sen. Lindsay Graham– from four directions. The group of conservative and independent-minded Republicans wants to give exposure to all four of Graham’s GOP primary challengers at its upcoming statewide convention.
“It’s better for Lindsey Graham to have four targets instead of one,” state Tea Party Patriots leader Joe Dugan said. Dugan, a Conway native, is one of the most active members of the movement in South Carolina.
“Each one of these candidates has talents and attributes that will draw voters away from Sen. Graham,” Dugan told South Carolina Radio Network. “I’d love to see any one of them sitting in Graham’s seat in 2015.”
Dugan is the organizer of the South Carolina Tea Party Coalition 2014 convention in Myrtle Beach this month. A top item on their agenda is a debate among GOP candidates Nancy Mace of Charleston, Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Bill Connor of Orangeburg, and Richard Cash of Piedmont.
To date, Sen. Graham has not accepted their invitations to speak at the event, where his toppling is a topic on the agenda.
“We’ll just have to take his answers in the debate from his record,” Dugan shrugged. “Senator Graham has been no friend of the public in South Carolina. Maybe some cronies he has brought projects to, but not to the ordinary family.”
Tea Party groups in South Carolina are taking issue with the senator’s defense of NSA intelligence tactics; his criticism of Tea Party-favorite Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s government shutdown tactics; and Graham’s fight for a bipartisan immigration bill– to name a few.
So far, South Carolina elected leaders confirmed to speak are Congressmen Mick Mulvaney, R-5th; Jeff Duncan R-3rd; Tom Rice, R- 7th; Treasurer Curtis Loftis and Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Iowa Rep. Steve King and Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine are also on the list.
This year’s event has been expanded by a half-day and will be streamed live on the internet in English and Spanish, according to Dugan.
The agenda’s other topics include: the current status of the Tea Party movement, national security, Obamacare, constitutional oaths of office, the Second Amendment, Common Core in education, a proposed convention of states, and the role of the county sheriff.
Graham’s spokesman Tate Zeigler did not specifically address the convention when South Carolina Radio Network reached out to him Thursday, but he defended the senator’s record.
“Senator Graham is a conservative fighter for South Carolina who gets things done,” Zeigler said in an emailed statement. “Whether it’s repealing and replacing Obamacare, working to ensure the Port of Charleston is deepened, standing up for the unborn, protecting the Second Amendment, or ensuring we have a strong military, Senator Graham is tenacious in protecting the values we hold dear. He’s looking forward to a spirited campaign where he can take his record of conservative leadership directly to the voters of South Carolina.”