Republican Netanyahu Ally Lindsey Graham Reelected to U.S. Senate

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U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, October 16, 2020.
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham at a rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, October 16, 2020.Credit: LOGAN CYRUS - AFP

One of the most fiercely contested races in the U.S. Senate ended in a decisive victory for South Carolina incumbent Republican Lindsey Graham.

Graham held off a tough challenge from Democrat Jaime Harrison, in a contest that shattered fundraising records. Tens of millions of dollars poured into Harrison’s campaign from Democratic donors nationwide. They were hoping to unseat one of President Donald Trump’s most powerful allies in the legislature and make progress in the effort to flip the Senate. 

But with nearly half the vote counted in South Carolina, Graham had pulled far ahead of Harrison, with 55 percent to Harrison’s 43 percent. 

Harrison, a former state Democratic Party chairman and associate chair of the Democratic National Committee, was hoping to become the first African-American senator from the Deep South. 

Graham is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and considered a key voice in advocating for hawkish pro-Israel views. He took the lead in opposing the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal, and has pushed for military aid to Israel. He also sponsored the Taylor Force Act, which withholds U.S. government funds to the Palestinian Authority until they cease paying the families of Palestinian prisoners convicted of terror attacks by Israeli courts. He also co-sponsored legislation formally condemning UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which deems Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.

In a hard-fought campaign, Graham faced the wrath of Democrats furious at the South Carolina senator for his about-face on a commitment not to support any Supreme Court nominee during a presidential election year. Graham helped the Republican Party block the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by President Barack Obama in 2016, nine months before Election Day.

He said then that he would do the same if a Republican president tried to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year. But when Trump fast-tracked the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett just a month before the election, Graham supported his moves from his position as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

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