U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) made a revealing comment about the future of the GOP last month, when he told the Washington Post that Republicans aren’t “generating enough angry white guys” for the party to survive in the long term.
Graham correctly said the GOP is “losing badly” on the demographic front, with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney beating President Barack Obama only among white males. With minority groups migrating to the Democratic Party in droves, Republicans’ ability to forge majority electoral coalitions is looking increasingly unlikely — a trend that doesn’t look to reverse itself anytime soon.
South Carolina’s senior senator has long advocated for a “big tent” Republican Party which caters to the interests of black guys, brown guys, and maybe even women! So naturally, you can see why the tea party wing of the GOP wants Graham out of office as soon as possible.
In fact, the conservative Club For Growth has already announced its intention to challenge Graham in the 2014 primary. The group of angry white guys is known for cannibalizing fellow Republicans whom it thinks aren’t conservative enough, making Graham a prime target in two years.
“If you’re looking to the horizon of 2014, the sun may rise over South Carolina,” Club For Growth president Chris Chocola told reporters last week.
The Club For Growth is also known for endorsing fringe candidates who might beat establishment Republicans in the primary, but often go on to be trounced in the general election for their far-right views. Think back to the 2010 campaigns of Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell, journalist-handcuffing Joe Miller, and Sharron “Second Amendment remedies” Angle.
But that’s just fine with Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), the Club For Growth BFF who once said he’d rather have 30 die-hard conservatives in the Senate than 60 “Republicans In Name Only.” While DeMint has generally refrained from being overly critical of his fellow South Carolinian, the two squabbled earlier this year over Graham’s support for a federal export-import program which benefits South Carolina-based companies like Boeing.
“Eighty percent of the Boeing 787s produced in South Carolina will be sold to companies who are eligible for and routinely use Ex-Im financing,” a Graham spokesman said last week in response to the Club For Growth’s criticism. “Sen. Graham would love to have a world without Ex-Im Banks, but that world doesn’t exist.”
David Woodard, a Clemson political science professor who co-authored a book with DeMint and once served as Graham’s campaign manager, told The Daily Beast’s Samuel Jacobs in 2010 that the two senators aren’t exactly close. “I don’t think they have any animosity, but I don’t think they have any abiding friendship,” Woodard commented.
If one of the Club For Growth’s “Junior DeMints” challenges Graham in 2014, however, it’s safe to say DeMint’s support will not go to the incumbent. Who knows — an intra-party feud triggered by the Club For Growth may even help South Carolina elect its first Democratic senator in nearly a decade!