By MIKE McCOMBS
Jaime Harrison was adamant.
“This race,” he said, “is not about Lindsay Graham.”
That didn’t mean Harrison had anything glowing to say about South Carolina’s senior Republican senator.
Harrison, the Democratic candidate for Graham’s Senate seat in the 2020 election, met with 50 or so supporters for a brunch fundraiser Saturday morning at the home of Jane and Lloyd Sidwell in Beaufort.
Most of Harrison’s message was bright. But that didn’t mean he had anything sunny to say about Graham, who in an about face from two years ago, has become one of President Trump’s most loyal supporters.
“I never thought I’d be quoting (conservative pundit) George Will, but George Will said it perfectly,” Harrison said. “Lindsay Graham is a political windsock. He doesn’t care about his best friend John McCain or Donald Trump. He does what’s in the best interest of Lindsay Graham.”
Harrison said that Graham’s silence in the face of Trump’s constant barbs aimed at McCain and his legacy was telling of what kind of person Graham is.
“If he does that to his best friend,” Harrison said, “what will he do to all of us?”
The son of a single teenage mom from Orangeburg and raised by his grandparents, Harrison defied the odds, attending Yale University and then Georgetown Law School. He eventually became the youngest, as well as the first black head of the S.C. Democratic Party.
Rebuilding trust and giving people hope – these are the things Harrison believes he has to do to have a shot a winning a Senate seat in a solid red state.
Harrison pointed out there are 200,000 unregistered African-American voters in South Carolina. There are 50,000 unregistered Latino voters, as well. And there are close to 150,000 voters who voted for Barack Obama for president and haven’t voted since.
If Democrats hope to win, Harrison said, they must get these people to the polls. He stressed getting help to the communities that need it the most and serving constituents, something he said South Carolina’s current senators – Graham, in particular – don’t do well.
In contrast, Harrison pointed out it was Strom Thurmond – ironically a longtime segregationist and a Republican – who answered his mother’s letter and assisted her in finding a job.
Harrison unveiled “Harrison Helps,” his plan to “show and not just tell the folks” by networking with supporters to help constituents in need even before the election.
And he stressed common sense.
“If you talk common sense to people and let them know you’re grounded in reality,” Harrison said, “they may not agree with me on everything, but they’ll know I’ll always tell them the truth.”
When asked about the way the Senate is being run, Harrison had harsh words for majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Graham.
“When you have two mass shootings that have taken place like they did, you would have thought that Congress would have run to go back into session to do something to address that,” Harrison said. “The American people are in need. We need our representatives to do something. What’s Lindsay Graham doing? He’s golfing with the president this weekend. He sent his thoughts and prayers and he’s golfing with the president.”
Harrison called Graham and McConnell out for refusing to address legislation written by S.C. congressmen Joe Cunningham and Jim Clyburn to close the Charleston loophole.
“You would have thought that (Graham), a United States Senator from South Carolina, who had nine of his constituents murdered, one of them a state senator, would have … out of deference and respect for the nine folks who lost their lives here in South Carolina, those families, he should have said, I don’t agree with this legislation, but out of respect for my constituents and their families, I will allow consideration and discussion of in the judiciary committee of the United States Senate. And what has he said? No.”
In the end, Harrison said, it’s time for Graham to do his job and represent all of the people of South Carolina.
“Time and time again, this guy has shown disrespect. And, you know, enough is enough. Who do you serve? Do you represent yourself? Or do you represent the people of South Carolina?” Harrison asked. “I don’t need to be on TV. I don’t need to be on Fox News. I don’t need to fly on Air Force One. What I need to do … if I put my hand on the Bible to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, to represent the people of South Carolina, then, dammit, that’s the job.
“Right now, we have someone who wants to do all these other things and be relevant and be important and be the best friend of the president, but that’s not why we sent him to Washington, D.C. You can do that and still do your job, but he’s not doing his job.”
Above: Jaime Harrison with Island News editor Mike McCombs