Jaime Harrison speaks with an easiness rarely found in a U.S. Senate candidate with just two weeks remaining before Election Day.
But the man seeking to upset the incumbent, South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham, has a knack for being the unassuming underdog.
“I was born into long odds,” Harrison confirmed.
“My mother was 16 years old when she gave birth to me and I was raised by grandparents who had a fourth- and eighth-grade education. But I was the first to go to college and the first to graduate.”
Harrison, who earned degrees from Yale University and the Georgetown University Law Center, later became the first African American to chair the South Carolina State Democratic Party.
“Despite long odds, I was still able to win,” Harrison offered. “With all of these races, how you start doesn’t dictate how you will finish.”
Harrison’s mission to defeat Graham, who has served in the Senate since 2003, has been enhanced by his ability to massively outraise and outspend his opponent. Between July and September, Harrison raised $57 million compared to Graham’s $28 million.
The South Carolina Senate seat remains critical in the Democrats’ goal to reclaim the chamber and the White House.
Recent polls continue to show a close contest. While the New York Times gave Graham a six-point lead on Oct. 15, a poll on the same date from the Palmetto State’s Data for Progress had Harrison up one-point, noting that 47 percent of voters backed the Democrat while 46 percent favored the Republican.
Six percent of South Carolina voters said they remain unsure who they will voting for, while the remainder told pollsters they would be opting for a third-party candidate.
Newsweek noted that Graham’s unfettered support for President Donald Trump continues to assist the president in his reelection effort. A little more than half of South Carolinians (52 percent) said they would vote for Trump to have a second term in the White House on Nov. 3 — putting him nine percentage points ahead of Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Newsweek further noted that the survey’s results contrast with those from a Morning Consult poll of South Carolinians conducted between Oct. 2 and Oct. 11.
According to the data published on Monday, Graham held a six-point lead over Harrison, with 48 percent likely voters backing the incumbent.
Forty-two percent of voters favored Harrison — marking a fall of four points from his ranking in Morning Consult’s survey of South Carolina in early September.
The Cook Political Report’s analysts now rate the South Carolina Senate race a toss-up, having previously favored Graham’s chances of winning another term in the upper chamber.
“When I first entered this race, people told me I didn’t have a chance,” Harrison recalled. “I’d get folks tapping me on the shoulder, telling me that I wouldn’t win.”
After graduating from law school, Harrison returned to his home in Orangeburg and taught high school, encouraging his students to go to college. He then served as an aide to legendary South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn.
In 2013, Harrison won the election as the first African-American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a position he held until 2017.
If elected to the U.S. Senate, Harrison promises to fight to invest in schools and training and end the student loan debt crisis.
“Fighting for affordable and accessible healthcare is personal,” Harrison remarked.
“My grandfather worked for decades paving roads in and around Orangeburg. To this day, if you travel to Orangeburg, there’s a good chance you’re driving on roads made by my grandfather’s hands,” he said.
Notably, Harrison will represent everything he said Graham hasn’t.
“[Graham] is the world’s most powerful golf caddy,” Harrison deadpanned, referring to the senator’s propensity to hit the links with Trump.
“I’m action-oriented and I’m someone who will do something to help people in need. People can’t wait until I get elected, they need help now, and that’s what I’ve been doing and will continue to do,” he said.