Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
November 29, 2014

Not Your Typical Southern Democrat in South Carolina

 Not Your Typical Southern Democrat in South Carolina

(John Rieger/CQ Roll Call)

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. Brad Hutto, wants you to know two things: He has a path to victory against the two-term Republican, and it doesn’t require him to run from traditional Democratic positions.

“I’m not a Blue Dog,” Hutto said proudly during a recent interview with me and my colleague Nathan Gonzales. “I’m a Democrat.”

Hutto doesn’t hide his views, which are right in sync with those of Democrats nationally. He figures that the four-way race for the Senate this year — against Graham, Libertarian Victor Kocher and independent Thomas Ravenel, a former Republican state treasurer of South Carolina — gives him a chance to win the contest with far less than half the total votes cast.

A former county Democratic chairman who was first elected to the state Senate in 1996, Hutto is a trial lawyer who has won his share of big money cases. He certainly has the gift of gab, and during our interview he spun anecdotes, scenarios and election numbers into a cobweb of relationships that, he said, gives him a chance to pull off what most would see as unthinkable — a Democratic Senate victory in one of the most Republican states in the nation during midterm elections with an unpopular Democratic president.

Because of the four-way race, Hutto emphasizes that he can win with only the votes of Democrats. He doesn’t need to tack to the center or reach out to GOP voters. Enough conservatives will vote for Ravenel or Kocher to keep Graham well under 50 percent, the Democrat argues, and if he can get Democrats to the polls in November, he can pull an upset.

In theory, the idea is not unreasonable, since the base Democratic vote in the state normally runs between 42 percent and 45 percent.

Barack Obama drew 44 percent in South Carolina in 2012 and just a hair under 45 percent four years earlier. Vincent Sheheen, the 2010 Democratic nominee for governor in the Palmetto State, drew just under 47 percent of the vote in a losing effort, and Bob Conley, the Democratic nominee against Graham in 2008, drew 42 percent of the vote.

But numbers can be deceiving, and Republicans didn’t run aggressive efforts in any of those races because they didn’t have to.

The problem for any Democrat in South Carolina is that while he or she may be able to get 42 percent or 44 percent of the vote statewide, every additional point is extremely difficult, especially in a federal race. And this year isn’t likely to be any different.

Ravenel, the son of a former congressman, doesn’t have the same appeal that he once did after pleading guilty to charges that he distributed cocaine and after being featured in the reality show “Southern Charm.” And the Libertarian nominee in the race won’t draw much support.

Hutto got into the race initially because he thought that Graham might lose the GOP nomination to a tea party conservative, which could have at least made the November race interesting

National Democrats aren’t giving Hutto much more than the time of day. But since he is in mid-term in the Legislature, he doesn’t have much to lose by sticking with his bid and hoping for a miracle. He has made millions as a personal injury lawyer and has put some of his own money into the race. But, on the other hand, he hasn’t written his campaign the kind of really big check that would indicate he has much confidence in his ability to pull the upset.

Almost every candidate I meet with has some sort of scenario for victory. Candidates rarely come in for interviews and tell me they understand that they are likely to lose. It happens — and it’s refreshing when it does — but it’s rare.

Hutto has an interesting and novel scenario. He can go on and on and on about it. (And he did.) But it’s still just a scenario, and calling him a long-shot would exaggerate his November prospects.

Related Stories:

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Senate Democrats Launch $9.1 Million Ad Buy in North Carolina

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Roll Call Election Map: Race Ratings for Every Seat

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  • Jack

    Hutto would be a great victory for the democrats and it would get rid of cry baby Graham. Graham has done nothing but support McCains endless war mongering for profit.Graham does so mush whining and crying someone should stick a passefier in his mouth.

  • YONATAN C

    BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE TURNED THEIR BACKS ON THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY. THERE ARE STILL MORE THAN 4 MILLION UNEMPLOYED WORKERS THAT ARE STILL WITHOUT AN UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION OF BENEFITS SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE SUCESSFULLY KILLED THE RETRO EXTENSION BILL IN THE SENATE, AND THE DEMOCRATS DID LITTLE TO FIGHT FOR THESE POOR FAMILIES. NOW MANY OF THESE FAMILIES HAVE HAD TO APPLY FOR WELFARE AND FOODSTAMPS IN ORDER TO CARE FOR THEIR FAMILIES. WE’RE BEING TOLD THAT THE ECONOMY IS BETTER AND THAT THERE ARE LESS PEOPLE APPLYING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION. THE REASON THAT THIS MIGHT BE TRUE, IS THAT THESE WORKERS HAVE GIVEN UP APPLYING FOR UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS HAVE HAD TO SEEK GOVERNMENT AID INSTEAD. WHAT A SHAME AND A DISGRACE OF THESE TWO UNCARING POLITICAL PARTIES.

  • Scoop Jaxson

    In this related article a democrat openly wages ideological warfare against our Constitution: http://www.newrepublic.com/node/94940

    • Lets_Think_Again

      No — not at at all.

  • verelll

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  • Carole Bradshaw

    Like marxism, the “big idea” of today’s liberalism is the notion that a cabal of academics and intellectuals is somehow magically entitled to consciously direct the future of mankind.

    • Lets_Think_Again

      This is mere idiocy — the assertion of far-fetched notion, palpably false, backed by neither evidence nor logic.

  • Bestuv Burke

    The intellectual vanguard of today’s liberalism is basically Bolshevik.

    • Mojojojo

      Says the guys whose entire intellectual ancestry fought tooth and nail for apartheid in South Africa less than 25 years ago. Lol okay.

    • Lets_Think_Again

      And the intellectual level of today’s far right fringe, like “Betuv Burke”, does not extend beyond such ludicrous assertions of absurd notions — amounting to nothing but a pretentious high-flown version of schoolyard name-calling.

  • Cy Nin

    It’s beginning to appear that today’s liberalism is impelled by the same forces as its socialist ancestors.

    • Lets_Think_Again

      Only to the very ignorant like yourself.

  • Al Amo

    If you want to begin to understand how deranged liberals actually are, check out Harry Reid playing politics with cancer victims: http://youtu.be/O0lFyFJeZSY?t=1m22s

    • Lets_Think_Again

      The video demonstrates NOTHING OF THE SORT. It’s YOU who are the deranged one here.

  • Eli Odell Jackson

    A ‘personal-injury lawyer’…
    You mean the son of a gun’s a stinkin’ ambulance chaser?

  • Captain Reacher

    The intellectual vanguard of today’s liberalism is basically Bolshevik.

    • Lets_Think_Again

      As this post demonstrates, the intellectual level of today’s far right fringe, like “Betuv
      Burke”, does not extend beyond such ludicrous assertions of absurd
      notions — amounting to nothing but a pretentious high-flown version of
      schoolyard name-calling.

  • Mike A’Doodle

    Whether it’s murdering the unborn or attempting to deny care to the born, like Sarah Murnaghan, today’s liberalism is basically a death cult.

  • Captain Reacher

    In a related article we find more liberals’ lies exposed: http://freebeacon.com/debbies-double-talk/

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