Sen. Lindsey Graham gets unexpected challenge from gay and female candidates

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Palmetto State politics continue to be complex. Boisterous rivals like Teddy Turner and former Gov. Mark Sanford vie to fill the shoes of Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the former representative appointed to his current office after Jim DeMint left to become president of the Heritage Foundation.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham has a pair of unexpected challengers as 2014 looms in the distance.

First, there is Bruce Carroll, co-founder of GOProud, the gay Republican group barred from the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference at week’s end. The 4-year-old organization has allies among those who insist the party needs help against Democrats from all sectors, gay or otherwise.

Mr. Carroll has resigned his post and likely intends to run against Mr. Graham.

“In the spirit of transparency and honesty, I informed my fellow GOProud board members that I could not dedicate the time to the organization while I seriously considered the effort it will take to challenge Sen. Graham in the 2014 primary,” he says in an open letter.

Mr. Carroll has already amended his Twitter biography to indicate he’s the “future junior senator” for South Carolina.

“If I believe I could provide a serious alternative to Senator Graham for the voters of South Carolina, and I can find the financial and moral support to join me in that effort, then I will take those next formal steps needed to do so,” he says. “Someone needs to be the conscience of South Carolina’s voters.”

And the second Graham challenger?

That would be Nancy Mace, the first female graduate of The Citadel and a conservative blogger, who recently penned an op-ed for The Hill admonishing Mr. Graham for denouncing Sen. Rand Paul’s high-profile 13-hour filibuster last week.

She’s also mulling a possible run against Mr. Graham, telling the political newspaper on Monday, “It’s about time we turn a credible candidate…there are certainly folks that have reached out to me.”

Still, The Hill says that Mr. Graham will be hard to beat in 2014 with $6 million in the bank and a reputation as a “feisty, scrappy campaigner who won’t be outworked on the campaign trail.”

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