- Associated Press - Friday, March 28, 2014

GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) - One of South Carolina’s leading Democrats is entering the race to try to keep U.S. Sen Lindsey Graham from a third term.

Sen. Brad Hutto paid the $10,440 filing fee Friday to make his surprise entry into the crowded race. He will remain in the state Senate while he runs.

Hutto said he looked at Graham’s poll numbers and decided there are not a lot of people happy with him in either party. A recent Winthrop University poll had 45 percent of likely Republican voters supporting Graham in this year’s primary with about a third still undecided.

“We need a leader in the Senate who will spend more time talking to folks in Barnwell, Bishopville, and Beaufort than appearing on Sunday morning talk shows,” Hutto said in a news release announcing his candidacy. “I will focus on job creation with special emphasis on rural South Carolina.”

Hutto also took a swipe at Graham’s concentration on foreign affairs.

“We need to require our overseas allies to accept a larger role in their own security so that we can start refocusing attention on rebuilding roads and schools in our own country,” said Hutto, an Orangeburg attorney who has been in the state Senate since 1996.

Hutto’s decision means there will be a June primary for the seat for both Democrats and Republicans.

Hutto will take on Jay Stamper, who was an unknown to party leaders.

Six Republicans have filed to take on Graham. The latest person to join the GOP primary on Friday was Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn.

The others running as Republicans are Columbia minister Det Bowers, state Sen. Lee Bright from Spartanburg, Anderson businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Lowcountry businesswoman Nancy Mace.

Filing for the race ends Sunday.

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