South Carolina junior Republican Sen. Tim Scott declined Wednesday to endorse his state’s senior senator, fellow Republican Lindsey Graham, underscoring persistent tea party skepticism of Graham ahead of his reelection bid.
“You just mentioned Lindsey Graham, the great Lindsey Graham of your state, are you supporting him for reelection?” CNN Crossfire host Van Jones asked Scott.
“You know, as you three have just heard recently, I am up for reelection next year myself,” Scott said. “I’m going to make sure that Tim Scott gets out and knocks on as many doors as possible, and I’m going to allow for all the other folks on the ballot to represent themselves very well. But I’m going to continue to work hard for my election.”
“So, no endorsement for Lindsey tonight,” Jones said.
“I’m certainly going to be working really hard for Tim Scott’s reelection,” Scott replied.
In an unusual circumstance, Scott and Graham are both facing elections in 2014. It will be Scott’s first Senate election, after he was appointed to the seat earlier this year when Sen. Jim DeMint left Congress.
Here’s footage of the brief exchange:
Graham, a ten-year veteran of the Senate, is already facing primary challenges from no less than four Republican candidates. Graham’s polling numbers in South Carolina are also down considerably, particularly among Republican voters. From Talking Points Memo last month:
The survey from Winthrop University found 37 percent of South Carolina voters approve of the job Graham is doing, compared with about 48 percent who said they disapprove. Winthrop showed Graham with an approval rating of 48 percent in February, and 44 percent in April.
Perhaps even more disconcerting for Graham, who is staring at a GOP primary in 2014, is his steep drop among Republican voters in South Carolina. The latest survey from Winthrop showed 45 percent of Republican voters approving of Graham, compared with 40 percent who disapprove.