Lindsey Graham

Contact Information

Telephone:202-224-5972 (Main phone number)
Campaign finance

Candidate Background

Birth place:Seneca, SC
Residence:Seneca, SC
First Elected:2002


Next Election:2014

Undergraduate education: University of South Carolina


Graduate education: University of South Carolina


Lindsey Graham grew up in Central, S.C., and now lives in Seneca. His parents died 15 months apart when he was in college and he adopted his younger sister, Darline, when she was 13.

Graham attended the University of South Carolina where he earned a bachelor's in 1977 and a law degree in 1981.

He practiced law and served six years of active duty as an Air Force lawyer. He joined the South Carolina Air National Guard in 1989. He is a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and is assigned as a senior instructor at the Air Force Judge Advocate General School.

Graham was elected to the state House in 1992 and to the U.S. House in 1994.

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2002.

Graham is single.


Lindsey Graham often plays a key role in brokering compromises in the Senate — something that's gotten him in trouble with some Republican activists in South Carolina.

Graham's comment in October 2009 that the GOP does not want to limit itself to a party of angry white men further incensed them. The Charleston County GOP censured him later that year, and the Lexington County GOP followed in January 2010, reprimanding his stances on immigration, climate change and the 2008 bailout of the financial industry.

The Greenville Republican Party followed in August 2010, after Graham was one of five Senate Republicans to back President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Elena Kagan. Graham cast the Senate Judiciary Committee's sole GOP vote for Kagan.

He has dismissed the complaints, saying bipartisanship gets things done. In voting for Kagan and Obama's other Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, Graham says presidential elections have consequences and that the Constitution gives the president the right to pick a nominee of his choosing.

Graham's supporters have praised his vocal opposition to the 2010 health care reform bill and his opposition to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They noted his effort to retool a cap-and-trade energy bill into legislation that would bring jobs to South Carolina. Graham, however, withdrew his support for the legislation in May 2010, saying it was impossible to pass because of disagreements over offshore drilling and efforts by Democratic leaders to focus on immigration reform.

Graham has closely aligned himself with Arizona Sen. John McCain and was often at his side during the 2008 presidential race. Graham has noted that he missed his own election in 2008, voting absentee rather than in person, to be with McCain's campaign.

Off the campaign trail, Graham and McCain teamed up in June 2012 to call on U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to take more action in an investigation into leaks of national security information. Along with McCain, Graham — who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan as the only uniformed member of the Senate — had pressed for a residual U.S. force to remain in Iraq, but the failure of the two countries to agree on whether American troops should be granted legal immunity scuttled that idea.

Throughout 2012, Graham warned about potential across-the-board spending cuts that he predicted would produce a hollow military force and devastate military bases in the state. The cuts, known in Congress as "sequestration," are due to start in January 2013 because a special panel failed to reach a deal last summer to reduce the deficit. Graham has said the cuts would be devastating to states like South Carolina with a heavy military presence.

Graham in March 2010 offered the White House a deal on terrorism trials, saying that if the president would try alleged Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accused accomplices in military tribunals, he would press fellow Republicans to vote to close the Guantanamo prison. He added that a new legal framework is needed to deal with the prison's most dangerous detainees.

Graham worked with Sen. Chuck Schumer to draft a bill on immigration reform and the two gave Obama the bill's outline in March 2010. However, following Democrats' approval of the health care reform bill, Graham balked at moving forward, calling immigration the first casualty of the health care push.

Graham suggested in summer 2010 that citizenship rights should be repealed for children of illegal immigrants. Other leading Republicans in the Senate then joined a push to reconsider the constitutional amendment that grants automatic citizenship to people born in the United States.

Graham voted against the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package, calling it an orgy of government spending that skimps on funds where they're needed most. But after the plan passed, he said South Carolina should take its share of the stimulus money rather than let it go somewhere else.

Committee Assignments: Armed Services; Judiciary; Special Aging; Budget; Appropriations

American Conservative Union Rating: 75

Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 25


Lindsey Graham won his June 2014 primary, he will face Brad Hutto in November.

(Last updated by The Associated Press on June 17, 2014.)

Last updated 3:16pm March 1, 2018