Senate 2008 Guru: Following the Races

Keeping a close eye on developments in the 2008 U.S. Senate races

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

SC-Sen: Introducing Michael Cone

Last May, I suggested that the 2006 Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor, Robert Barber Jr., would be an ideal candidate to challenge Lindsey Graham. In addition to highlighting Barber's strengths, I noted Graham's numerous weaknesses. While a Barber candidacy never materialized, Graham's weaknesses still very much apply.

Graham supports a historically unpopular president a whopping 91% of the time. He has an atrocious record when it comes to supporting working families and veterans. He has even gone soft on issues like prohibiting torture and accountability in Iraq. And it doesn't help Graham any that in a socially conservative state like South Carolina, rumors about his sexual orientation continue to follow him.

Graham has found himself in the doghouse with many South Carolinians for pushing immigration reform legislation that numerous Palmetto State Republicans likened to amnesty, so much so that he was booed at his own Party's state convention and that he has been dubbed by conservative commentators "Lindsey Grahamnesty." One South Carolina county Republican committee even voted to censure Graham.

This discontent with Graham, particularly among his base, has led not only to anti-Graham websites like, Dump Lindsey Graham, Defeat Lindsey Graham, and Toast Graham, but also to significant 2008 Senate primary opposition. Among Graham's growing number of primary opponents are former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Republican National Committee member Buddy Witherspoon. State Representative Jeff Duncan and former Congressman Tommy Hartnett are also publicly considering primary challenges.

So Lindsey Graham will have to hustle and spend a chunk of his $4 million+ bankroll just to emerge from his primary and win re-nomination. And then he'll have to focus on his Democratic opponent.

South Carolina might be a red state, and Democrats might not have a deep bench. But that doesn't mean we should count it out just yet. We could be surprised by the 38-year-old attorney Michael Cone. So who is he? According to his professional biography:

Michael was graduated from The Citadel in May of 1991 and immediately commissioned an Ensign in the United States Navy.

After serving in the Navy in San Diego, California, Michael returned to South Carolina and entered law school in 1997. He was graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in May of 2000 and served as law clerk to the Honorable Paul E. Short, Jr. until August of 2001.

From August 2001 until January 2006, Michael was an associate with Simpson & Dong, LLC where he practiced civil litigation. While with Simpson & Dong, Michael participated in the prosecution of several class action lawsuits that resulted in beneficial recoveries for South Carolina consumers. He also participated in several appellate cases, including at the Supreme Court of the United States.

Michael is admitted to the South Carolina Bar, the U. S. District Court for South Carolina, and the U. S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. He is a member of the Charleston County Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, and the National Association of Consumer Advocates. Michael has achieved Advocate status in ATLA's Achievement Recognition Program. Michael attends the Church of the Holy Communion (an Anglo-Catholic parish of the Episcopal Church of the U.S.A.) is a lifetime member of the Citadel Alumni Association, and is a member of the Exchange Club of Charleston.
His military background offers instant credibility on related matters like Iraq and terrorism, while his legal contacts offer a ready-made fundraising base. What does Cone have to say about South Carolina's status as a red state?

“I do not buy into this idea that this is a republican state," Cone explained. "This is a very independent state. We have been solidly republican for awhile, but I don’t think that means people are closed to new ideas or closed to the Democratic Party.”

The system, Cone feels, is failing its people, and that’s why he says if elected, he’ll represent the people.

“I would represent them and their opinions rather than what I think is best for them.

I would actually listen to them which I find that Senator Graham doesn’t always do,” he added.
And he's focusing on issues that will resonate with South Carolina voters:

Cone says he's against illegal immigration and wants to see some major public works projects aimed at reducing America's dependence on foreign oil.
Discontent with Lindsey Graham has never been higher. A recent poll by InsiderAdvantage found that his approval rating has sunk to a beleaguered 31% and that his disapproval rating among Republicans has grown to a relatively massive 46%. Graham will have his hands full with a primary featuring numerous opponents, all taking shots at him. And then, should he win re-nomination, he will likely have to face a dynamic young lawyer with a military background and a message that could resonate deeply with disaffected voters. Lindsey Graham is very much on the hot seat, and Michael Cone could prove to be a lot more than just a token name on the Democratic line on the ballot. Keep an eye on this race.


Blogger NewRed said...

I sincerely hope that the DSCC spends millions and millions on Cone or whoever the Democrat is that wins their nomination for this seat. The GOP needs the Democrats to waste as much money as possible in 2008.

9:22 AM, January 16, 2008  
Blogger goodwyne said...

It would certainly seem that no time would be better than now for a Democrat to challenge Graham. I've said on my own conservative blog that I am prepared to vote for a Democrat over Graham in the general election and that is no small thing as I am something of a Republican partisan.

Having said that, I don't see any real serious challenge to Graham, either from the Republican challengers or a Democrat challenger. I wish it were otherwise but I don't see it at this point.

Money is the problem and Graham won't have to spend all that much of it with a field of relatively unknown and under funded Republican challengers in the primary. That will likely leave him with most of his war chest for the general election.

I do not expect the DSCC will put much into this race because Graham is no threat to them. Indeed, he is quite helpful when it comes to the Democrat agenda in the Senate a good deal of the time. He calls himself a conservative but he most certainly is not.

Thanks for the heads up email and the mention in your post.

2:23 PM, January 18, 2008  

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