Palmetto Sunrise: What's their gripe with Sen. Graham?

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Political experts believe that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham is sure to get the most votes in June's primary. But will he get over 50 percent in order to avoid a risky and costly runoff?

That could depend on whether one of Graham's six primary opponents sways enough voters to put them in a runoff.

The Post and Courier asked all six what their biggest complaint about South Carolina's longtime senator was. The answer from state Sen. Lee Bright, perhaps the best known of the challengers, was this:

Bright: "The primary reason is that Graham's now a creature of Washington and not a South Carolina conservative. This impacts his votes and also colors what he says to the media and the Sunday shows. He's constantly working with John McCain to undermine conservatives with a gang of eight here or calling Ted Cruz a wacko bird there. He's consumed with lecturing us about how Washington works instead of educating Washington about how America works. Then again, he's been in office so long, he has no idea how America works anymore - which is the problem in the first place."

Graham record: In the non-election years leading up to now, Graham has been a regular guest on the Sunday network political talk shows, giving him a national platform to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2012, he was a guest 18 times on "Meet the Press," "Face the Nation" or other interview shows. In 2013 he was a guest 16 times, according to tabulations kept by the Washington-based political site Roll Call.

But his appearances have declined significantly for the election season of 2014, down to just two so far this year, according to Roll Call.

The Graham/McCain partnership goes back years. But the "wacko birds" comment is more connected to McCain, who was quoted as using the term in reference to other Senate Republicans questioning whether the president had the power to use lethal drones on U.S. soil. At the time, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas, were among those who had filibustered incoming CIA Director John Brennan over drone policy. Graham did side with McCain on the issue connected to the war on terror.

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