House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is bullish on his former protégé’s chances of flipping one of South Carolina’s Senate seats blue in November and ousting Lindsey Graham from Congress, he said Tuesday.
“Not a single soul alive believed when he announced for the Senate that he would be sitting here 30 days out, 48-48,” the South Carolina Democrat said of Jaime Harrison, who polls have shown tied or within striking distance of Graham in recent weeks.
In an interview with POLITICO Playbook authors Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman, Clyburn attributed the unexpectedly tight race to the “class act” of a campaign Harrison has run, saying he was "proud" of his former staffer.
Though Harrison, who Clyburn joked “came into my life as an 11th grader” and who he had not been able to “get rid of … since,” remains the underdog in ruby-red South Carolina, his campaign has posted massive fundraising numbers in recent months. That has helped Harrison catch up with Graham, one of Trump’s biggest critics who became one of his closest allies in Congress.
“I think things are breaking in his favor. If we get the kind of turnout that we’ve been working on in South Carolina,” Clyburn said Tuesday, “Jaime is going to win that race.”
While Clyburn reiterated that “I think it has a lot to do with how good he’s run the campaign,” he posited that “it also has a lot to do with the hypocrisy of Lindsey Graham — too many people are sick and tired of this kind of stuff.”
The congressman pointed to the battle raging over Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett and Republicans’ pledge to push her through days before the election.
As chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will take up Barrett’s nomination beginning Monday, Graham has become a prime target of the partisan vitriol, in particular because he said in 2018 that he would not consider a Supreme Court nominee during an election year.