So according to Senator Lindsey Graham (R. SC), who is a member of the Gang of 8, says the fate of immigration reform may rest on how his constituents in his home state feel about it:


“There’s a sea change happening in the Republican Party on this and I see it here,” Graham told Bloomberg News in an interview published Thursday. “If I can sell it in South Carolina, don’t come to me and say it’s hard. This is a conservative state, and the way we’re selling it is to fix it.”

Graham has been touring the state in recent weeks pitching a bipartisan immigration plan backed by him and seven senators that includes a path to legal status and citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, a guest worker program for future immigrants, a crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants, and a slew of new border security measures. - TPM, 3/28/13

Graham's back home in South Carolina making the case for immigration reform as Congress is on it's two week break:


U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks to the press following his private meeting with United States U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice about the attack on U.S. diplomats in Benghazi, Libya, on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 27, 2012.   REUTERS/Jason Reed   (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR3AXVY
Graham is making his stand as the environment for an immigration rewrite is improving on various fronts. A growing number of Republicans -- including the Republican National Committee -- are urging lawmakers to drop opposition to legalizing undocumented immigrants after the 2012 presidential elections showed their standing with Hispanic voters had hit rock-bottom.

A Public Religion Research Institute poll of 4,465 people released March 21 found that more than six in 10 respondents, including a majority of Republicans, backed a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as long as they met certain requirements.

“Attitudes about immigration are very strong, but they’re also evolving in the Republican community,” said Whit Ayres, a polling expert who advises Graham. “There’s far more openness toward a reasonable and defensible immigration reform than there was even six months ago.”

Still, it’s not a simple argument to make, particularly for Graham, who earned the ire of core party activists for his past efforts on the issue. Opponents derisively nicknamed his work as “Grahamnesty.” After the collapse of a 2007 rewrite pushed by President George W. Bush, Graham backed off his advocacy and -- with his own approval ratings at home plummeting -- refused in 2010 to participate in a bid by Obama to revive it. In withdrawing his support, he accused Obama of “a phony, political effort” that would undermine any real chance of future progress on immigration. - Bloomberg, 3/28/13

And there are some signs that Evangelical Christians are finally coming around on this issue:


Now, the evangelical community is putting its money and its political muscle into the debate. Ads are running on Christian radio stations, a website promotes Bible verses about immigration, and the Evangelical Immigration Table will send text messages to update subscribers. The evangelical campaign for immigration launched earlier this month with a news conference and conference calls with national media.

“As Christians we’re called to be more than just Republicans or conservatives,” said Hal Stevenson, owner of Grace outdoor advertising in Columbia and a board member of the conservative Palmetto Family Council. “We’re called to be thinkers and representatives of Christ in the marketplace. “

Graham is a member of a bipartisan committee that is hashing out an immigration bill to take to Congress. Progress on the bill has stalled as Republicans and Democrats argue over changes to the guest worker program.

Graham insisted he will not back down on the immigration issue this time around, especially since he has the support of the evangelical community. Religious voices from a conservative hotbed like South Carolina will help the cause, he said.

“If you want to run ads, spend all the money you want to spend,” he said. “I’m not backing off.” - The State, 3/26/13

We'll see if Graham will keep his word.  No I'm not Lindsey Graham fan but I have to say that he truly understands that his party needs to open up to immigration reform if the GOP ever wants to win the White House again.  South Carolina Democrats are applauding Republicans like Graham for finally wanting to take part in the immigration reform process.  But the only way Graham was able to get some breathing room on this issue with primary voters was by reshaping his image as a true conservative:
Graham-080106-18270- 0005
A survey conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic- leaning company, last year found that Graham had gained substantial ground with Republican primary voters since his low point in 2010. A January 2011 survey by the firm found just 37 percent of them backing Graham in a primary, while 52 percent wanted an unnamed “more conservative” choice; by December 2012, 51 percent supported him compared to 40 percent who wanted an alternative.

“He has done a very good job over the last 12 to 18 months sort of re-positioning himself with the Republican primary voters, and you can see that in his” approval ratings, said J. Warren Tompkins, who has advised Graham as well as Republican presidential candidates dating back to former President Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign. “The criticism of Rand Paul was a misstep, and he stubbed his toe, but he stubbed his toe -- he didn’t break it.” - Bloomberg, 3/28/13

Graham also has nearly raised $7.6 million for his re-election campaign and he looks like he's in a stronger position to secure his party's nomination than he did months ago.  But 2014 is still a while away and no amount of campaign cash or an improved image is going to scare away a Tea Party challenger just yet:
“Calling them legal I’ve got a problem with,” said State Senator Lee Bright, who said he is “seriously considering” challenging Graham in a primary race. “I don’t want folks who have not come here legally to be able to vote or to be able to collect any kind of welfare.”

Graham’s position on immigration isn’t Bright’s only criticism. He said the senator underscored how out of touch he is with South Carolinians when he criticized Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, a Republican, for a 13-hour filibuster criticizing the Obama administration’s drone policy.

“He seems like he’s trying to find a lot of compromise with Obama, and it seems like when you compromise with Obama, you lose if you’re a conservative,” Bright said in an interview.

Unseating Graham, he added, “would be uphill in the snow - - I mean, there’s no question it would be a tough fight -- but I do think it’s doable.” - Bloomber, 3/28/13

Plus there's this guy:


As for what that means for the Defense of Marriage Act's federal definition of 'marriage,' which is being challenged in a case to be heard by the Supreme Court later this month, Carroll said, "I still fundamentally believe the word 'marriage' is a religious term used by a church of a covenant between a man, a woman and God, so I actually support DOMA as it is on the books because I think it helps move the topic now more cohesively to the states and allow the states to do flexibility."

Asked if that meant he supports a married same-sex couple in New Hampshire being treated differently than a married opposite-sex couple, he paused and said: "As you can tell, I'm struggling with this. I have my beliefs, I have my principles on the issue. I don't agree with the gay community on marriage. It's a tough call, but I would say right now that there are just so many layers of this that I think DOMA is practical in the type of environment we're in. In five years from now, I might have a different perspective. But, as we're here today, I think it's practical to keep DOMA in place while other things are playing out in the states." - BuzzFeed, 3/14/13

Even if the majority of South Carolina Republican voters are willing to budge on this issue, there are still other issues that could hurt Graham down the line.  So we'll need to see how this plays out.  Plus lets see what the final draft of the bill looks like:
“I don’t mind walking away from the bill if it’s a bad bill — I can do that,” Graham told Bloomberg. “I will do it in a heartbeat.” - TPM, 3/28/13
Even though I don't want Graham to win another term in 2014 I'm hoping that he can be successful with getting his constituents on board with this because we really do need to pass a comprehensive immigration reform plan.  By the way, if Graham does end up losing his primary and the Tea Party nominates a whack job who can be defeated, we at least have a candidate who wants to run for that seat:


On Tuesday, March 26th, Businessman Jeremy M. “Jay” Stamper will announce his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 2014 to represent South Carolina in the United States Senate. Stamper is making his first run for public office.

“Too many South Carolinians are unemployed or underemployed and struggling to keep up with the rising costs of healthcare and education,” said Stamper. “I’m running because someone needs to stand up to the politicians in Washington D.C. who would rather invest in nation-building overseas than nation-building right here in the United States. Our strength as a country depends on the strength of our economy and that means investing in education, infrastructure and research to create jobs here at home.”

A resident of Columbia, South Carolina, Jay earned his undergraduate degree in Government from Connecticut College. After graduating, Stamper joined Operation Outreach USA, a non-profit literacy organization and later led marketing initiatives at startup airline Pro Air. In 2002, Jay founded The Delaware Company, a business filing company offering online incorporation services nationwide, which he later sold. Jay is currently Managing Director of the Palmetto Regional Center Corporation, a non-profit that seeks to promote job creation in high unemployment areas of South Carolina. Jay and his wife also contribute their time to a number of other non-profit organizations in the areas of science and education. - PR Web, 3/26/13

I'll be keeping an eye on this race.

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 07:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by LatinoKos.


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