Decision 2020: Lindsey Graham faces three primary challengers for his U.S. Senate seat

Decision 2020: Lindsey Graham faces three primary challengers for his U.S. Senate seat
Joe Reynolds (top left), Duke Buckner (top right), Michael LaPierre (bottom left) and Senator Lindsey Graham (bottom right). (Source: Joe Reynolds, Duke Buckner, Michael LaPierre, WMBF News)

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Lindsey Graham is one of the most well-known lawmakers not just in South Carolina, but across the country.

However, he has three Republican challengers hoping to block his re-election to the U.S. Senate on June 9.

The first of Graham’s challengers is Joe Reynolds. He’s a chief engineer on ships.

He graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy in 1987. He’s from the Lowcountry, and he’s a self-described moderate Republican looking to bring problem solving to the front of his campaign.

“When I’m a chief engineer out at sea, and the ship breaks down, I don’t have any backstop,” Reynolds said. “I don’t have the luxury of saying, ‘Maybe next year, we’ll get to it.’ I have to get to it right away, and I think that’s the kind of drive and urgency and grit we need in Congress right now.”

Reynolds said if he gets elected, he plans to put a term limit on himself, as he’s vowed to only serve one six-year term.

“There’s a lot of people up there who’s primary ambition is to just be a career politician, and I don’t want to be that,” he said. “I think that the problem is that we have too many people who have been up there too long, and they’re just trying to get re-elected.”

Also running for the Senate is Duke Buckner. The Walterboro native is an attorney, who supports traditional conservative values and backs President Trump. One issue he feels especially strongly about is abortion.

“In order to reduce the number of abortions, not only in South Carolina, but across the nation, is that they be prohibited with no exceptions,” Buckner said.

Buckner is also a vocal advocate for the 2nd Amendment.

“Our 2nd Amendment rights have been slowing chipping away at, and we can not allow our 2nd Amendment rights to be infringed,” Buckner said. “The forefathers of our constitutions made it clear that we the people have the right to keep and bear arms.”

Michael LaPierre is another candidate vying for the Senate. He’s from Pickens, and he’s also outspoken about abortion and the 2nd Amendment. Stopping illegal immigration is also a top priority for him.

“We need to build a wall. We need to secure our borders,” LaPierre said. “When we went from 144,000 illegals in the month of May 2018, now it’s down around 30 or 40,000, that’s not good enough. We need a zero tolerance policy.”

LaPierre is a former minor league baseball player who believes his business experience will translate well into a political career.

“I’m a 4.0 MBA graduate at Clemson University, and I spent 33 years in the corporate world,” LaPierre said. “I have a balanced life that is good for South Carolina.”

Then there’s Senator Lindsey Graham.

“I understand this part of the state very well, and the number one job of the federal government, above all else is national security, and I’ll put my record in terms of supporting our troops and understanding the threat of radical Islam up against anybody,” Graham said.

Graham said he hopes people who voted for him in the past will vote for him again, and he has a message for anyone who may be a bit unsure.

“With me, you know what you’re going to get. I’m going to speak my mind. I’m a Republican, but I don’t mind working with Democrats when it makes sense,” Graham said. “How do your build your road if they don’t get theirs?”

The story at the top of every American’s mind right now of course is the coronavirus.

Here’s how each candidate believes the government has handled the pandemic so far:

Reynolds: “I think the states have tried to do a good job. I applaud Gov. McMaster. There was a lot of uncertainty to begin with. You didn’t know what was going on. I didn’t know what was going on, and I think the governor took the lead. He’s done a good job. He’s tried to do the best he could with the information he had. And a lot of governors are the same way.”

Buckner: “We can not allow our union to be destroyed because we’re closed indefinitely. We have to open it up, and I know one life lost is one too many, but to preserve the union, we have to open back up for business.”

LaPierre: “President Trump has done an admirable job especially during this corona crisis. President Trump came in and he had our economy chugging along at light speed.”

Graham: “President Trump shut down all travel from China to the United States in January. That saved millions of people from being infected. In March, he used the defense production act to start making ventilators. We were short, we’re in a pretty good spot there.”

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