U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, has agreed to debate his June Republican primary challengers in an event hosted by S.C. Educational Television in collaboration with The State newspaper, The Greenville News and other state newspapers.
ETV announced Thursday that Graham will join the debate, which will take place at 7 p.m. on June 7.
Graham faces six Republican challengers in June's primary as he seeks re-election to a third term. Det Bowers, a Columbia pastor, S.C. Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor, Columbia attorney Benjamin Dunn, and Charleston PR executive Nancy Mace are running against Graham for the GOP nomination.
It is unclear how many of the challengers will join Graham in the debate.
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The event, three days before the June 10 primary, will mark the first time Graham has debated any of his opponents.
The six challengers have participated in candidate forums across the state. Graham's absence from those forums has drawn ire from some of his opponents.
Democrats state Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg and Jay Stamper of Irmo, and Libertarian Victor Kocher also are running for the seat.
ETV also has planned debates in other contested races including the Superintendent of Education, Lt. Governor, and the debate for the unexpired U.S. Senate seat, currently held by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston. “We’re pleased to offer voters the opportunity to hear from the candidates directly in a statewide broadcast,” said ETV President Linda O’Bryon. In addition to the live broadcasts on ETV-HD, the debates will stream live on scetv.org and via participating local newspaper websites to extend the availability of the debates.
Nearly 20 candidates for the races have expressed interest in participating. Finalized dates and times will be announced.