Welcome to “The Next Wave,” a new Rolling Stone video series in which we interview the politicians and activists shaping the future of America. Our first guest is Jaime Harrison, the 44-year-old former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party now vying to end Lindsey Graham’s career in the Senate.
Though Harrison trailed Graham by close to 15 percentage points when the year began, as early voting opens in South Carolina most polls have him either tied with or within a single point of the powerful incumbent. His insurgent campaign has been one of the most remarkable stories of the election cycle. “People have told me my entire life I can’t do something,” Harrison told us last month. “There were people who told me that I could not win this race. And what I told them is: Watch me.”
Harrison’s success is a testament to how well his service-first approach to politics has resonated with South Carolinians, as well as the degree to which the state has grown weary of Graham’s shameless political maneuvering. The latest example of the latter is the senator’s support for President Trump’s push to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the election, despite vowing on multiple occasions to not confirm a Republican president’s nominee during an election year. “Use my words against me,” the Judiciary Committee chairman said in 2016.
So Harrison did, taking Graham to task on Saturday during the first of three South Carolina Senate debates. “Sometimes listening to Senator Graham is like playing Monopoly with my son. He changes the rules every chance he gets,” Harrison said before imploring Graham to just “be a man” and admit that he changed his mind.
Harrison raised over $2 million in the 24 hours following the debate.
“Lindsey is desperate right now, and I sort of feel bad for him in some respects, to be quite honest,” Harrison said last month. “He doesn’t understand that there’s so much more about being a United States senator than the title or the ability to get in front of a TV camera. There’s also the power to fundamentally transform the lives of folks, to bring opportunity into communities that don’t have it.”
Regardless of whether he’s able to upend Graham, Harrison has established himself as a Democratic leader at the helm of a new age of Southern politics, one in which progressives are making inroads in deep-red states. “The winds of change are blowing through the South,” Harrison told us, “and I know that whatever the outcome is on November 3rd, I’ve already won.”
Click here to read our full interview with Harrison.
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