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Lindsey Graham in Tight Fight for Senate Seat

Oct.12 -- Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, is facing a tough challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison who raised $57 million in the last three months. Graham has been in office for over two decades. Bloomberg's Anna Edgerton reports on "Balance of Power."

Video Transcript

KEVIN CIRILLI: South Carolina is up for grabs. Senator Lindsey Graham's seat in the Palmetto state is not a sure thing with his Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison raising more money in the third quarter than any other Senate candidate in history. Wow.

For more on the race, let's bring in Bloomberg News's congressional editor, Anna Edgerton. Anna, you know, this was really supposed to be Senator Lindsey Graham to-- I mean, this was an all but given. What happened? Why is this race so close?

ANNA EDGERTON: Yeah, the fact that we're even talking about this race, you know, South Carolina electing possibly a Democratic senator, shows just how far this blue wave could go in the direction of the Democrats, depending on turnout and depending on the final weeks before the election.

You did mention that Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Graham for his seat, raised a record amount in the third quarter. He raised $57 million, which is more than any other Senate candidate in history. Second, the second most was Beto O'Rourke in Texas when he was challenging Ted Cruz. So we do know that it's not a given if you raise the most money that you'll win that seat.

TAYLOR RIGGS: Anna, I'm very curious if this is a national election, Biden versus Trump, or if there is some more local level issues in the state that are more of a focus.

ANNA EDGERTON: Yeah, that's an excellent question. And we're certainly seeing national money. There's a lot of money flooding into this race. It's not coming just from South Carolina.

But South Carolina is an interesting state because, yes, it is conservative, but it's a-- it's fiscal conservative. It's not as focused on the social issues as some of the other states in the Deep South.

You see people like Mark Sanford, a previous representative from the state, a previous governor, who was really a fiscal conservative. And that's kind of more the brand of conservatism that we see in South Carolina. He resigned from the House of Representatives because he didn't really fit in with President Trump's Republican Party.

Lindsey Graham has made a different calculation. He has gone full in on President Trump. And I think he's really drawing a lot of attention and kind of paying the price for that.

KEVIN CIRILLI: Well, you know, that's what I find just fascinating here, is that you just go a couple miles up the interstate to North Carolina, and you've got Senator Thom Tillis against Cal Cunningham. And he's trying to distance himself between himself and President Trump. Has Senator Lindsey Graham in the past couple of days, Anna, done anything to try to put some distance between himself and the president?

ANNA EDGERTON: No, he has focused very strongly on President Trump's nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And, you know, we must remind viewers that Graham is the Judiciary Committee chairman and heading those confirmation hearings right now.

So he's kind of banking on this moment to remind conservative voters in South Carolina that you might not like what President Trump has done, his personal style, you know, some other actions that he's taken, but you're getting these conservative justices confirmed to the Supreme Court, which could cement a conservative majority for a generation.

TAYLOR RIGGS: Anna, how much of the shift that we've seen when Graham won big in 2016 to now looking neck and neck, how much of that is a shift in what we've seen with how he has gone from a critic to a supporter of Trump? Or is there something else going on entirely?

ANNA EDGERTON: Well, it is interesting to see the evolution of Lindsey Graham. In 2016, during the Republican primary, he was very critical of President Trump. And now he has had himself entirely to the president's state, you know, becoming one of his closest confidants and golfing buddies, which is a huge shift for Lindsey Graham, who was a very close ally of the late Senator John McCain and much more of a kind of, you know, deficit hawk, fiscal hawk, kind of traditional conservative.

Now he, as have many other Republicans, has completely gotten onboard with the kind of Trump brand of conservatism, especially when it comes to labeling Democrats as part of the radical left that wants to dramatically reshape America as we know it.