Sep 13, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Sen. Lindsey Graham may face right-wing primary challenge in 2026

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.). Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images.

Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) said Wednesday he is considering running against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in 2026.

Why it matters: Norman, a high-profile member of the right-wing Freedom Caucus, could pose a significant threat to the four-term senator.

  • Norman made headlines in December 2022 as one of the core opponents to electing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

What he's saying: "Yes, I am," Norman told Axios when asked if he's mulling a challenge against Graham. "I'm going to look at it."

  • Still, Norman signaled an announcement won't be forthcoming any time soon: "It's a '26 race. A minute in politics is a lifetime."

Zoom in: Norman said his case would be focused on the "two sides of Lindsey".

  • Graham has "done a good job on [confirming conservative] judges" as a leading member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Norman said, "but he should."
  • On the other hand, Norman said, Graham voted to pass a government funding bill in December just before Republicans assumed the House majority, much to the chagrin of the right: "He handcuffed us until the following September."

The big picture: Graham, a relative moderate in the Senate GOP conference who hasn't said if he's running again, has faced primary challengers during his three reelection bids but won each time with more than 55% of the vote.

  • Still, the highest-ranking opponent Graham faced was a state senator – fending off a U.S. House member would be a first for him.
  • A Graham spokesperson declined to comment on a potential run by Norman.
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