South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham has long proven to be a false conservative. He talks a good game at home, but is more willing to work with liberals and undermine conservatives when he is in Washington. A conservative believes in a strong national defense, but unlike Graham, doesn’t want to intervene in every conflict that ever breaks out. A conservative looks for statesmen-like solutions to the complex problem of illegal immigration, but in contrast to Graham, doesn’t look to pass sweeping immigration reform for its own sake.
South Carolina conservatives have had enough and some are challenging him in the Republican primary.
In addition to Nancy Mace (whom we have profiled here on Pocket Full of Liberty) and a couple of other challengers, Graham will have to face Lieutenant Colonel Bill Connor, a decorated combat veteran who entered the race this past Tuesday. With military credentials that will remind some of Allen West, Connor is also an attorney. Although, like Mace, he has never held political office, he is known statewide because of his unsuccessful bid for the South Carolina Lieutenant Governorship in 2010.
Senator Graham has a reputation for understanding all things military- and intelligence-related. Conservatives worried about losing that strength should take a look at Connor. Besides his combat experience — he is the only challenger who has any – Connor is a member of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory Team and he co-founded a military analysis firm called National Defense Consultants LLC. He may just have the expertise to hold his own against Graham in a debate over foreign policy and national defense.
Interviewed on BenSwann.com (a conservative South Carolina website), Connor praised Graham’s strong national defense positions, but criticized him on the TARP bailout, immigration, spending/taxing, and foreign aid.
Most significant to Connor, however, were Graham’s votes for Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, which he called “inexcusable.”
On immigration, Connor commended President Eisenhower for enforcing the nation’s laws and lambasted Graham for being “weak” on enforcement while patronizing conservatives about the “new political reality” that says that they have to back off of a tough-line stance. Though Connor takes the position that enforcement should be the top priority, he was never pressed during the interview about further particulars to his immigration policy. One wonders if he would work with a Rubio, or even a Rand Paul, to reform the system that is in place. Clearly comprehensive reform like that supported by Graham and John McCain is out of the question.
“Obamacare should be defunded and repealed at the earliest opportunity,” he said unequivocally.
On the Second Amendment, Connor offers his own experience as a combat veteran as evidence that he understands the importance of self-defense, saying that “the Constitution is 100% about this right” and that that right includes so-called assault rifles. He also raised the issue of oil drilling off of the South Carolina coast, among other places.
These strongly conservative positions have not won him many fans among establishment Republicans. However, Connor may be an ideal candidate for those conservatives who want to see Graham go, but prefer a candidate with less libertarian tendencies than Nancy Mace or current frontrunner Lee Bright (both endorsed Ron Paul in 2012).
The difficulty with three significant challengers is that they could split the conservative vote and fail to take down Graham. Hopefully a clear leader will emerge that conservatives can rally around early.
I know I’m tired of Lindsay Graham and I’m not even from South Carolina.
Conservatives there must have reached total exasperation by now.
Might Bill Connor be their man?