Aug 31, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Lindsey Graham challenger Jaime Harrison wants to usher in the "new South"

Jaime Harrison, the Democrat running against Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, told "Axios on HBO" that he's poised to "close the chapter on the old South" if elected in November.

Why it matters: Many people thought this Senate race was a long shot for Democrats, but things are changing quickly as polls show the contest is tightening and it's become the most well-funded race in South Carolina history, per the Post and Courier.

  • In mid-August, Cook Political Report changed the rating of the race from "likely Republican" to "lean Republican" — signaling a massive shift in the dynamics at play, though a win is certainly not guaranteed for the Democrats.

What he's saying: "Lindsey Graham, a man who I used to have tremendous respect for, he's changed. He's not the same person," Harrison told "Axios on HBO."

  • "I'm running against a guy who cares more about his own political relevance and his political power than he does addressing the issues that people are dealing with here on a day-to-day basis."
  • Harrison said if elected, he hopes to usher in a new era for the South. "We are about to close the chapter on the old South and start a whole brand new book that I call the new South," he said. "A new South that is bold, that is inclusive, that is diverse."
  • He pointed to his recently released "Rural Hope Agenda" as a way to achieve that vision through policy, touching on things like education, infrastructure and broadband access for rural Americans.

The big picture: Ongoing protests against police brutality have shifted the national political discussion to focus on systemic racism, giving some Black candidates a renewed look and raising awareness about their lived experience in the U.S.

  • Harrison, who is Black and the father of two young children, talked about navigating those two realities:
"This pain is not new. It is hard when I talk to friends and they say the hardest thing that they have to tell their kids is that Santa Claus ain't real. Well for me, I got two Black boys. And the hardest thing that I have to do is tell them that one day they may lose their life because of the color of their skin.
— Jaime Harrison, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, to "Axios on HBO"

The bottom line: If Harrison wins, South Carolina will become the first state in U.S. history to have two African American senators serving at the same time. He would join Republican Sen. Tim Scott.

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