Immigration: a Non-Issue in South Carolina?

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I arrived yesterday in the Palmetto State ahead of the Democratic and Republican primaries here and I was surprised to see on tv today a commercial for Buddy Witherspoon, a conservative Republican and Lexington orthodontist who is challenging Senator Lindsey Graham in the GOP primary here. The fact that Graham has a challenger is no surprise, he won himself few friends at home in his support of the immigration talks these last two years. In fact, Graham was booed at the Republican convention here last year because of it. So the fact that a GOP challenger has raised enough money to run tv ads against Lindsey (which incidentally was one of the more racist ads I’ve seen with a woman, apparently fresh from traversing the Mexican border illegally tell viewers in a voiceover “Gracias, Lindsey Graham,” as if he drove her over personally) isn’t much of a shocker.

The surprise is that Graham’s long-time friend an co-author of the immigration bill John McCain and Mike Huckabee, who has been slammed for granting the children of illegal immigrants college scholarships, are leading in the polls here. Apparently, even though South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford cited immigration reform as a chief priority for the next session of the state Legislature in his State of the State address Wednesday night, the issue isn’t as much of a hot topic as one would imagine. Or, at least, it hasn’t dragged down either McCain or Huckabee who are leading polls here with 27% and 25% of the vote respectively followed by Freddie Thompson and Mitt Romney with 15% each, according to averages of South Carolina polls by Real Clear Politics. As Republicans go to the polls here later today, we’ll soon see if immigration truly isn’t an issue in the Palmetto State.