Conservative star State Senator Lee Bright (SC-12) tells Breitbart News he will formally announce his candidacy for U.S. Senate Tuesday. “It’s time for someone new to represent the people of South Carolina in the U.S. Senate,” said Bright. “Tim Scott was a great replacement for Jim DeMint, and it’s the right time to continue that momentum by bringing a second conservative to the senate. It’s time we replace Senator Graham.”
Bright, who has won over the support of conservatives and libertarians across the state for his record in South Carolina’s State Senate, hasn’t been shy about voicing his concerns about Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), whom he would seek to replace.
Bight joins Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of the Citadel, and businessman Richard Cash in the primary.
Bright called on Graham to repudiate recent comments made by Senator John McCain, a close ally of Graham’s, for stating publicly that he was undecided as to whom he would support for President if it were to come down to Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Rand Paul.
“South Carolina needs their senator to show leadership on this one. Has there ever been an easier no-brainer?” Bright asks in response to McCain’s comments. “Friendships need to be put aside; when we have a Republican saying Hillary Clinton’s in the running, it’s time to return to principles.”
Bright believes the time is right to challenge Graham’s mediocrity. “You look at my record–I can say without question I live up to my principles–and it won’t matter how much money he dumps in this race.”
Bright’s principles and record reveal a clear departure from Graham’s moderate accommodation. His initial foray into politics was as a school-board member in Spartanburg, SC, where he won the “Friend of the Taxpayer Award” during his four-year tenure.
After serving on the school board, Bright decided to make a run for state senate in the 2004 election for the 12th district. This was the first time Bright came head to head with the Republican establishment, being outspent 2:1, ultimately losing by just 21 votes to “well-entrenched establishment Republican trial lawyer” John Hawkins.
Bright then rededicated himself to his private-sector career as owner of On Time Transportation, a volume LTL (less than truckload) carrier that serviced 48 states and Canada. There he employed over 100 people at the company’s height, running a total of five different facilities in four states: Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina.
An opportunity reemerged when, in 2008, his former opponent Hawkins vacated the 12th district senate seat and Bright decided to take another shot at state politics. This time Bright prevailed, defeating Republican State Rep. Scott Talley in the primary and going on to win the general election.
Senator Bright tells Breitbart News his priorities are the Second Amendment and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, respectively. “I believe in the right to bear arms,” Bright said, “and I will do whatever I can to defend that right, as well as the individual rights and state’s rights guaranteed by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.”
Bright has a track record to back up his claims. He was the primary sponsor of the 10th Amendment Resolution, which passed in South Carolina, to reassert state sovereignty.
Other legislative achievements include a bill that would take away the ability to collect unemployment if a claimant is terminated for cause. He co-sponsored “born alive” legislation to prevent the termination of babies born alive during a failed abortion, and is very active in other pro-life legislation.
Bright is also passionate about the current amnesty debate and earlier this year openly opposed the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Council’s position in favor of amnesty from the floor of their convention.
He has a 100 lifetime score with the South Carolina state chapter of the Club for Growth and is consistently rated the most conservative with South Carolina tea party groups. He was also the only state senator to uphold all of Governor Haley’s budget vetoes this year, and considers himself a fiscal hawk.
While Bright is an unabashedly proud conservative and self-proclaimed fiscal hawk, he admits he has faced a challenge, along with many other Americans. During the real estate bubble, he invested heavily in commercial real estate warehousing, and when the market collapsed, he had to subsidize his position through his trucking company.
“When the economy got tough,” Bright says, “resources were depleted. And I wasn’t prepared for the downfall.” Bright says he’s working to repay the debts he owes, yet remains involved in ongoing litigation regarding some of his debts.
As he faces what would be his greatest challenge yet–to unseat establishment darling Lindsay Graham–Bright is optimistic that the time is right to serve his state as a U.S. Senator. Having grown up in Pauline, SC, and lived in Spartanburg County his entire life, he wants to see his South Carolina return to the principles he knows remain deeply ingrained there:
“As our state, and our country, head into a storm, I want to see South Carolina well equipped. And that means turning out those who have presided over the current mess and returning to our principles. We have the map–we have the Constitution–and I have the dedication and the heart to see it through,” said Bright.
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