Another candidate announced his opposition to Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R.-S.C.) in the 2014 primary on Veterans Day at a Tea Party meeting at the Myrtle Beach Friendly’s Restaurant.
Graham’s support for President Barack Obama’s policies and his devious practice of sabotaging conservatives on Capitol Hill, while campaigning back home as a conservative, drove him to declare a campaign to unseat him, said Bill Connor, an Orangeburg attorney, who is married with three children.
“I am trying to bring back smaller government and constitutional government,” he said.
Just five days after his announcement, his first campaign video, posted at the bottom of this page, had more than 70,000 views on YouTube.
Connor is a 23-year Army Ranger and infantry officer, now serving in the Army Reserve. After 12 years of active service, the Citadel graduate earned a law degree and is now in private practice. He is the son, grandson and great-grandson of career Army officers from South Carolina. In 2007, Connor volunteered for a 15-month deployment to Afghanistan, where he was promoted to lieutenant colonel and posted as the senior American advisor in Helmand province, serving with British Army Capt. Harry Wales.
Days after returning from Afghanistan in February 2009, Connor said he declared for Palmetto State lieutenant governor.
In Afghanistan, Connor said he was fighting for American values, but it seemed after the election of Obama to the White House and the Wall Street bailout, those values needed defending at home.
In a four-candidate primary, Connor won several counties and received 107,731 votes with 27 percent of the vote, finishing second to J. Kenneth Ard by 25,000 votes. Ard went on to win the general election, but resigned in an ethics scandal.
Despite it being his first foray into the hustings, the Citadel graduate said he shocked the South Carolina political establishment by raising nearly $500,000 and running a strong state-wide campaign.
The race also taught him how to target and husband resources, he said.
In the 2014 GOP primary for Senate, besides Graham, Connor faces state Sen. Lee Bright, Richard Cash and, remarkably, Nancy Mace. Mace was one of the ringleaders of the Republican establishment’s smear operations against Gov. Nikki Haley.
On domestic issues, Graham has betrayed conservatives using the Senate’s two-step vote process, he said. In the Senate the first vote is to end debate and proceed to the actual vote on a motion. The first vote, the cloture vote, requires 60 votes to pass, but the second vote only requires a simple majority.
On the votes to defund Obamacare and other conservative motions, Graham votes with the Democrats to end debate, helping them reach the 60-vote threshold, he said. Then he votes in favor of the measure with conservatives, when the Democrats have enough votes to carry the day themselves.
The maneuver gives the Obama and Democrats the support they need to achieve their agenda and allows Graham to proclaim that he voting with conservatives, he said.
Graham also betrayed conservatives when he voted to confirm the two liberals Obama placed on the Supreme Court, Sonia M. Sotomayer and Elena Kagan, he said. DeMint, then the other senator from South Carolina voted against both women.
Although Graham has a reputation for supporting a conservative national security goals, the senator’s advocacy for Obama’s misadventures in Libya and Egypt call into question Graham’s judgment and understanding of the threats America faces, he said.
“When it came to Libya, I kind of watched him and scratched my head—understand now, there are a lot of bad guys there and we have to be careful about who were are backing,” he said.
“He totally screwed up in Egypt,” Connor said. “The Muslim Brotherhood is not our friend. Period. They are a den of vipers.”
The Citadel graduate, who served in both Egypt and Israel during his active-duty Army career, said Graham’s defense of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was persecuting the Egyptian Christians, and he criticism of the Egyptian military, which saved the country from the abyss the MB was taking it, were ignorant of the situation on the ground.
“The bottom line is he was wrong,” he said. “As for the use of troops and use of our foreign policy, it needs to be American interests first.”
Connor said he is not looking for endorsements, except for DeMint’s, even though as the leader of Heritage, it may be a difficult for him to weigh in personally.
Watching DeMint as a senator was an important lesson, he said.
“The first thing is having backbone in the tough circumstances of DC,” he said.
The former senator was under great pressure to support the 2008 Wall Street bailout, officially the Troubled Assets Relief Program, but he stuck to his principles, he said. “At the time, a lot of the political experts were trying to scare the you-know-what out of people, telling them if they didn’t TARP bailout, credit cards would be spit out, the whole world would collapse and the sky would fall down and everything else—and he didn’t give in to it.”
On matters of conservative principles, DeMint did not waver, he did not give in to go along with the crowd, Connor said. “When I came back from Afghanistan, I saw him as the heroic example to follow.”