SPARTANBURG — State Sen. Lee Bright is expected to make his candidacy for U.S. Senate official sometime next week.
Bright, R-Roebuck, has long been speculated to be a Tea Party challenger to Sen. Lindsey Graham. On Monday, Bright said plans are in the works for a formal announcement, and soon.
"We're working on something for next week," he said after Spartanburg County's quarterly legislative delegation meeting.
Bright launched a campaign website, www.brightforsenate.com, Tuesday morning. The site promises a first glimpse at his campaign video to those who sign up for his newsletter. The video is set to be released immediately after his announcement, according to the website.
Currently in his second term representing District 12, Bright has been outspoken in Columbia on fiscal issues. He has also taken a stance on gun control, filing bills to eliminate training requirements to obtain a concealed weapons permit, and to exempt South Carolina gun manufacturers from federal regulation.
Bright has suffered his own fiscal issues with the failure of his trucking company and ensuing foreclosure actions and tax liens. The company failed as a result of the economic downturn, according to Bright, and he said the experience made him empathetic to the experiences of his constituents who also battled the weak economy.
The primary race against Graham is becoming increasingly crowded with self-proclaimed conservatives seeking to unseat the moderate Republican who has brokered several deals across party lines, including a controversial immigration reform bill.
Richard Cash, an Anderson businessman, announced in April he planned to take on Graham. On Saturday, he was followed by Nancy Mace, owner of a public relations firm and the first woman to graduate from The Citadel. Bill Connor, an Orangeburg attorney who ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, is also reported to be considering a run at Graham.
Challengers will have to compete with Graham's name recognition and substantial campaign funds, but the 2014 contest will also mark the first time Graham faced a serious primary challenge. He had no in-party opposition when he sought to replace the retiring Strom Thurmond in 2002, and he swept to victory by a substantial margin in 2008.