With a week left until the 2014 election filing period opens comes a question: Wouldn't it make sense for one of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's five GOP primary opponents to drop out?
South Carolina's filing period
The two-week filing period for all 11 political parties operating in South Carolina runs from March 16 through noon on March 30. Local county election commission offices and the state Election Commission are in charge of receiving candidate paperwork this year. Filing fees for state, local and federal offices this year are:
Office Annual salary Term of office Filing fee
U.S. Senator $174,000 6 years $10,440
U.S. Senator $174,000 2 years $3,480
(to fill unexpired term)
U.S. House of Rep. $174,000 2 years $3,480
Governor $106,078 4 years $4,243.12
Lieutenant Governor $46,545 4 years $1,861.80
S.C. House of Rep. $10,400 2 years $208
Secretary of State $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
State Treasurer $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
Attorney General $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
Comptroller General $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
State Sup. of Education $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
Adjutant General $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
Comm. of Agriculture $92,007 4 years $3,680.28
Circuits 3, 5, 6, 12, 13, 15 $134,221 4 years $5,368.84
If the tea party and the ultraconservatives want to remove Graham, some political watchers say it would make sense for them to take him on with far fewer candidates in the GOP primary on June 10.
That's especially true because all five of his challengers have so far been nearly identical in their anti-Graham messages, so none have separated themselves from the pack.
Other experts say that unless a big name jumps in at the 11th hour, Graham appears well-positioned against any of the current crop, since only one of them has ever held office, and none has raised significant money.
"The lack of a strong, credible opponent - say, a congressman - is potentially Graham's ticket to another term," University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said.
Sabato conceded that Graham has to be a little worried that, collectively, the five might be able to get enough votes to drag him below the 50 percent mark needed to avoid a June 24 runoff.
But even if that happens, "Will the lone remaining challenger really be able to consolidate the opposition into a runoff win?" Sabato asked. "There won't be much time and it will take a lot of money. And Graham will be prepared, no doubt."
Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon agreed that it may be too late for any of Graham's opponents to singularly become a legitimate threat, given Graham's $7.6 million war chest. He also doubted that any one of them would be willing to step aside.
"They all think they are 'the one' who is able to take out Lindsey Graham, if given the right chance," he said.
The most recent Winthrop poll last month gave Graham 45 percent support of GOP voters. While the number is short of the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, Huffmon said Graham is strongly positioned, because he still can get a good portion of the 35 percent of Republicans who identified themselves as undecided.
The rest of the pack trailed far back in the survey, with state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, at 8.5 percent; Berkeley County businesswoman Nancy Mace, 3.7 percent; Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, 3.5 percent, and Upstate businessman Richard Cash, 3 percent.
Columbia area pastor Det Bowers was not an active campaigner at the time of the survey Feb. 16-23, so he was not included. The poll surveyed 901 likely Republican primary voters and has an error margin of 3.2 percent.