Lindsey Graham Censured for Climate Stance, Again

A second county Republican Party in South Carolina has voted to censure Sen. Lindsey Graham over his work on cap-and-trade legislation and his willingness work across party lines on issues like climate, bailing out the banks, and immigration.

The Lexington County Republican Party voted 13-7 in favor of a resolution censuring Graham on Monday, and called on the state party to rescind support for the senator, because his “positions do not reflect a complete belief in the South Carolina Republican party platform and do not serve the interests of South Carolinians.” The resolution was sponsored by Talbert Black Jr., a county party member who had previously served as the interim state director for Ron Paul’s Campaign for Liberty campaign group, which gives a good sense of the stripe of conservatives running the Lexington County GOP.

Graham, the resolution states, has “repeatedly demonstrated contempt and belligerence towards those members of the Republican Party who support freedom, a Constitutional government, and the Republican Party platform.”

His support for a cap-and-trade bill to address climate change and his willingness to work with John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), “reiterates his support for government intervention in the private sector in direct contradiction of the Republican principle of free markets, as stated by the Republican party platform,” says the statement.

The Republican Party of Charleston County also voted to censure him in November for his stance on climate policy and his willingness to work with Democrats on key issues.

Graham responded to the most recent rebuke on Tuesday night, dissmissing the country chapter as “fringe elements” representing the “Ron Paul movement.” He criticized what he called the “misplaced priorities” of the county GOP. “I do believe in finding common ground to solve hard problems,” said Graham, “but there are some elements of my party and others that want complete agreement all the time.”

“The 13 people who support this resolution are Ron Paul supporters,” Graham said. “They didn’t vote for me before and they’re not going to vote for me next time, and I understand that.”

Four former chairmen of the county party have also circulated a letter condemning this move by the party, and standing behind Graham, whom they call a “conservative problem-solver” in “the mold of his predecessor Strom Thurmond.” “We don’t agree with the Senator on every issue, but we don’t agree with any elected official on every vote. Overall, we believe Senator Graham to be a conservative stalwart and accomplished leader in our Party,” they wrote. “He certainly did not deserve to be ambushed like he was last night.”

“As it now stands, 13 people have now spoken for our county’s 70 organized precincts and the 23,000 Republicans who voted in our 2008 primary. This is completely unfair and very disappointing,” wrote the former chairmen.  “We stand ready to fight Democrats, register more conservative voters, and get more Republicans to the polls, but we will not be part of circular firing squads that tear down our beloved Party.”

Graham won reelection with nearly 58 percent of the vote in 2008, so at this point he doesn’t really seem to have much to worry about with just a few of the righter-leaning counties hot and bothered about his work across party lines.


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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.