Can Lindsey Graham Beat the Tea Party Twice?

I just listened to a conversation between David Drucker of RollCall and Hugh Hewitt on Tuesday night, and they talked about a wide range of subjects including the 2016 status of [mc_name name=’Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’G000359′ ]. He has strongly hinted on a 2016 presidential run, which Hewitt believes could possibly lead to such a muddled field that nobody goes to Cleveland as the nominee.  While that would be exciting, it would also be risky.

The consensus, at least in my mind, is that Graham is temporarily freezing the money.  He may be freezing it nationally, but he is certainly hoping to freeze it in his important state of South Carolina.  After the GOP Establishment candidates have thinned themselves out or have created a pecking order, Graham would throw his support to the leader thus ensuring a South Carolina victory and paving the way to the nomination.  Plan B might see a situation where the Establishment is still muddled and then Graham himself may run as a “favorite son” to pick up delegates to be used at a tight or divided convention.  (I am honestly not considering a scenario where Graham wins the nomination, but anything is possible.)

As a tea party conservative, I hope that we could come up with a Plan C.  We remember that just last year, Lindsey Graham was the top target of conservatives due to his association with the weak 2008 standard-bearer [mc_name name=’Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’M000303′ ] and their collective disdain for the Cruz-Lee-Paul wing of the Senate.  And Graham won his primary 56-44, a respectable margin for a general election but actually a weak showing in the primary for a well-known Senator seeking his third term.

But of course, Graham DIDN’T win 56-44!  The conservative opposition could not unify for the singular purpose of defeating Graham.  It may have been a “purity of policy” or excessive ego, but SIX candidates split the 44 percent with five of them grabbing support only in the single digits.  Voters who are actively engaged in South Carolina news and politics will be able to differentiate between Lee Bright, Nancy Mace, or Richard Cash and the others, but the majority of primary voters saw that the opposition was split so they just went with the guy they knew.

If conservatives split their presidential vote in 2016, then Graham wins again.  I repeat this throughout this year and the next – the people at FreedomWorks, Club For Growth, Heritage, Tea Party Patriots and others need to find a unifying candidate to rally behind.  Right now, there are about a half-dozen candidates who I could support whole-heartedly, and I don’t think I can wait until March 15 to decide on just one.  It would be nice if I felt like I was part of a huge conservative bandwagon beating the GOP Establishment when I vote, and not just a lone guy poking at a screen.