COLUMBIA, SC — Orangeburg attorney and U.S. Army veteran Bill Connor – who lost the 2010 Republican runoff for lieutenant governor to Ken Ard – has filed to run against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham in next June’s Republican primary, according to federal election documents.
Connor did not return requests for comment Friday. However, he filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday, indicating he plans to run.
Connor is the fourth Republican to oppose Graham in the primary, joining state Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash and Charleston public-relations executive Nancy Mace.
Unlike Bright, Cash and Mace, Connor has run a statewide campaign before, raising more than $600,000 for his bid to win the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, according to finance records with the S.C. Election Commission.
In 2010, Connor placed second in that GOP primary to Florence’s Ard, trailing 34 percent to 27 percent. However, Ard, who resigned last year and entered a guilty plea to fraud charges, won their runoff convincingly, 61 percent to 39 percent.
Connor lost a 2011 bid for state GOP chairman and, most recently, has been the party’s 6th District congressional chairman, a post he must resign as a candidate for public office, S.C. Republican Party chairman Matt Moore said.
In an August interview with Joshua Cook, writing for the conservative blog Ben Swann, Connor said he considers himself a political outsider, having never held public office or worked as a political consultant like others vying for the GOP Senate nomination.
Connor said he was “a conservative who just wants to defend the Constitution in a different manner” than he did as an infantry officer, deployed overseas.
Connor graduated from The Citadel in Charleston in 1990 and was an infantry officer in the U.S. Army for more than a decade. He received a law degree from the University of South Carolina in 2005.
A lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Connor also was deployed in Afghanistan to Helmand province, where he met Prince Harry of England.
Connor wrote a memoir about his experiences.
One Democrat has declared for the Graham race – Jay Stamper, who recently moved to Columbia from Washington state.
Some Democrats have attempted to disavow Stamper, citing his three Nevada felony convictions that resulted after Washington state regulators forced Stamper to shut down an online investment company.
Staff writer Andrew Shain contributed. Reach Self at (803)771-8658