As the battle between the grassroots and the establishment sides of the Republican Party rages on, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is taking a very public stance on the side of the establishment.
“I’m going to embrace being a Chamber of Commerce Republican,” Graham said in an interview with The Greenville News in Greenville, SC this week.
The Chamber of Commerce represents the biggest group fighting on behalf of the GOP establishment in its ongoing battle with the Tea Party movement, becoming deeply involved in Republican primary elections and pushing comprehensive immigration reform on Capitol Hill.
“There’s a fight in our party about the sort of isolationism on foreign policy, libertarianism on domestic policy,” Graham said. “I’m a traditional conservative Chamber of Commerce Republican.”
“I like the Chamber of Commerce. I like the idea that people compete against each other,” he explained. “During the day, you come together for the common good. You’ll have insurance companies that compete against each other, you’ll have lawyers and bankers who basically fight for market share at the end of the day. But through the Chamber they try to come together and build up the community.”
“That’s the way I think,” Graham claimed. “When it comes to problem solving, Washington is broken and I think the solution is not more people yelling but somebody willing to roll up their sleeves and willing to fix problems like you have to do at the Chamber level and you have to do in the private sector.”
Graham’s decision to publicly side with the Chamber in the middle of a primary challenge from multiple candidates could be a sign he does not feel threatened by his opponents. Graham is facing four primary challengers–businessman Richard Cash, businesswoman Nancy Mace, State Sen. Lee Bright, and former Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor. South Carolina is a runoff state, so those four challengers simply need to get Graham under 50 percent of the vote in the June primary to force the race to a one-on-one challenge between Graham and whoever comes in second place.
Polling data has been scant in the race thus far. According to Real Clear Politics, the latest poll was conducted in late October 2013 and showed Graham at 51 percent to Bright’s 15 percent, with Cash and Mace both receiving 4 percent of respondents’ support. That poll was conducted before Connor entered the race. In late August 2013, another poll showed Graham at 42 percent to Bright’s 13 percent, Mace’s 10 percent, and Cash’s 7 percent.