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Lindsey Graham
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, Official Photo, 113th Congress.jpg
Official portrait, 2013
United States Senator
from South Carolina
Assumed office
January 3, 2003
Serving with Tim Scott
Preceded by Strom Thurmond
Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2023
Preceded by Chuck Grassley
Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee
In office
February 3, 2021 – January 3, 2023
Preceded by Bernie Sanders
Succeeded by Chuck Grassley
Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
In office
January 3, 2019 – February 3, 2021
Preceded by Chuck Grassley
Succeeded by Dick Durbin
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 3rd district
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Butler Derrick
Succeeded by Gresham Barrett
Member of the South Carolina House of Representatives
from the 2nd district
In office
January 12, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by Lowell Ross
Succeeded by Bill Sandifer III
Personal details
Lindsey Olin Graham

(1955-07-09) July 9, 1955 (age 68)
Central, South Carolina, U.S.
Political party Republican
Education University of South Carolina (BA, JD)
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service Flag of the United States Air Force United States Air Force
Years of service 1982–1988 (active)
1989–1995 (South Carolina Air National Guard)
1995–2015 (reserve)
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit U.S. Air Force Judge Advocate General's Corps

Lindsey Olin Graham (born July 9, 1955) is an American lawyer and politician serving as the senior United States senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003. A member of the Republican Party, Graham chaired the Senate Committee on the Judiciary from 2019 to 2021.

Early life

Lindsey Olin Graham was born in Central, South Carolina, where his parents, Millie (Walters) and Florence James "F.J." Graham, ran a restaurant/bar/pool hall/liquor store, the Sanitary Cafe. His family is of Scots-Irish descent. After graduating from D. W. Daniel High School, Graham became the first member of his family to attend college, and joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. When he was 21, his mother died of Hodgkin's lymphoma, aged 52, and his father died 15 months later of a heart attack, aged 69. Because his then-13-year-old sister was left orphaned, the service allowed Graham to attend the University of South Carolina in Columbia so he could remain near home as his sister's legal guardian. During his studies, he became a member of the Pi Kappa Phi social fraternity.

He graduated from the University of South Carolina with a B.A. in psychology in 1977, and from the University of South Carolina School of Law with a J.D. in 1981.

Military service

Most of his active duty during his military service happened from 1982 to 1988, when he served with the Judge Advocate General's Corps in the United States Air Force, as a defense attorney and then with the Air Force's chief prosecutor in Europe, based in West Germany. Later his entire service in the U.S. Air Force Reserve ran concurrently with his congressional career. He was awarded a Bronze Star Medal for meritorious service in 2014 and held the rank of colonel.

Political career

Graham worked as a lawyer in private practice before serving one term in the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1993 to 1995. He served four terms in the United States House of Representatives for South Carolina's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2003. In 2002, Graham won the U.S. Senate seat vacated by retiring Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond. He was reelected to a fourth term in 2020. In the Senate Graham advocates for strong national defense and aggressive interventionist foreign policy. Initially, he was known for his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on issues like campaign finance reform, a ban on waterboarding, cap and trade, immigration reform, and judicial nominees. He has criticized the Tea Party movement, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.

Graham sought the Republican nomination for president between June and December 2015, dropping out before the 2016 Republican primaries began. He was an outspoken critic of Donald Trump's 2016 candidacy and repeatedly said he did not support Trump; in particular, he took issue with Trump's comments on Graham's close friend, Senator John McCain. After a March 2017 meeting with Trump, Graham became a staunch ally of his, often issuing public statements in his defense. His reversal caught both parties by surprise and sparked media speculation. He became chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in January 2019, and led the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett, who was confirmed in October 2020.

Political positions

Immigration reform

In July 2010, Graham suggested that U.S. citizenship as a birthright guaranteed by the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution should be amended, and that any children born to illegal immigrants in the United States should be considered illegal immigrants.

Gun rights

In 2022, Graham became one of ten Republican senators to support a bipartisan agreement on gun control, which included a red flag provision, a support for state crisis intervention orders, funding for school safety resources, stronger background checks for buyers under the age of 21, and penalties for straw purchases.

Health care

Graham opposed President Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in December 2009, and against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.

Graham is a cosponsor of the Healthy Americans Act.

LGBTQ+ rights

Graham voted to support a constitutional amendment opposing marriage between same-sex couples in 2006.

Climate change

In 2020, Graham sponsored the Growing Climate Solutions Act, a bill that would make it simpler for farmers to sell carbon credits on existing carbon trading markets in California and in the Northeast.

總統出席接見美國聯邦參議院軍事委員會馬侃(John McCain)主席訪問團 (27455615196)
Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen meets with senators Graham and McCain, June 2016

Foreign policy

Graham supports an interventionist foreign policy.

War in Afghanistan

John McCain and Lindsey Graham, along with Lt. Gen. Richard P. Mills, in Afghanistan, 2010

Graham suggested that the U.S. stay in Afghanistan permanently, claiming that this would benefit both nations.

Graham vehemently opposed Joe Biden's plan to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He suggested that this plan puts the U.S. in danger and could cause "another 9/11".


On November 6, 2010, Graham called for a preemptive military strike to weaken the Iranian regime. In 2011, he supported a continuing U.S. military presence in Iraq, saying, "If we're not smart enough to work with the Iraqis to have 10,000 to 15,000 American troops in Iraq in 2012, Iraq could go to hell."


President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko presented state awards to Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, 30 December 2016 (2)
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko presents the Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise to Graham, December 30, 2016

In December 2010, Graham was one of 26 senators to vote against the ratification of New Start, a nuclear arms reduction treaty between the U.S. and the Russian Federation obliging both countries to have no more than 1,550 strategic warheads or 700 launchers deployed during the next seven years along with providing a continuation of on-site inspections that halted when START I expired the previous year. It was the first arms treaty with Russia in eight years.

In August 2011, Graham co-sponsored a resolution that contended that "Russia's invasion of Georgian land in 2008 was an act of aggression, not only to Georgia but to all new democracies."

On July 16, 2013, Graham suggested the United States should consider boycotting the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, because of "what the Russian government is doing throughout the world".

On March 3, 2022, Graham tweeted that "The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out" in response to the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The tweet sparked controversy after Graham called for the assassination of Vladimir Putin.

On May 29, 2023, the Russian Interior Ministry issued an arrest warrant against Graham for his comments about the war.


Graham supported the NATO-led military intervention in Libya.


Embassy Dedication Ceremony (41431882324)
Graham attended the opening of the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem in May 2018

On January 5, 2017, Graham condemned Obama for abstaining from UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemned Israeli settlement building in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem as a violation of international law.

On March 11, 2019, Graham said he would encourage the Trump administration to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel.


In May 2019, Graham called for a military invasion of Venezuela to overthrow Nicolás Maduro amid the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis.


In October 2017, in the wake of the Tongo Tongo ambush, which killed four U.S. soldiers, Graham said, "I didn't know there was a thousand troops in Niger." A few days later, he called for an expanded role of the U.S. military in Niger: "You're going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you're going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you're going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field."


In July 2018, Graham and Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited Manbij in Syria, and met the Manbij Military Council, which led an offensive to liberate the city from ISIS in 2016 with help from the US-led coalition.

Saudi Arabia

In March 2015, Graham supported the Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen, saying, "We want to have a relationship with Saudi Arabia. They're a strategic partner. They're a mortal enemy of the Iranians." In June 2019, he was one of seven Republicans to vote to block Trump's Saudi arms deal providing weapons to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, and one of five Republicans to vote against an additional 20 arms sales. In late 2019, Graham took a warmer approach toward Saudi Arabia. He praised the Trump administration for sending thousands of additional troops to Saudi Arabia to counter Iran's threat. He also praised Saudi Arabia for opening its airspace to Israeli flights.


In October 2019, Graham said he would "introduce bipartisan sanctions against Turkey if they invade Syria" and that he would "call for their suspension from NATO if they attack Kurdish forces who assisted the US in the destruction of the ISIS Caliphate."


Although Graham signed Grover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge in June 2012, he went on record supporting the closure of tax loopholes without compensating decreases in other tax revenue, saying, "We're so far in debt that if you don't give up some ideological ground, the country sinks."


The Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies identifies Graham, during his U.S. House and U.S. Senate tenure, as having a mostly protectionist and pro-subsidies voting record.

Electoral history

South Carolina's 3rd congressional district: results 1994–2000
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd party Party Votes Pct
1994 James E. Bryan Jr. 59,932 40% Lindsey Graham 90,123 60% *
1996 Debbie Dorn 73,417 39% Lindsey Graham 114,273 60% Lindal Pennington Natural Law 1,835 1%
1998 (no candidate) Lindsey Graham 129,047 100% Write-ins 402 <1%
2000 George Brightharp 67,170 30% Lindsey Graham 150,180 68% Adrian Banks Libertarian 3,116 1% *

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 1994, write-ins received 13 votes. In 2000, Natural Law candidate LeRoy J. Klein received 1,122 votes and write-ins received 33 votes. George Brightharp ran under both the Democratic and United Citizens Parties and received 2,253 votes on the United Citizen line.

Senate elections in South Carolina (Class II): results 2002–2014
Year Democratic Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd party Party Votes Pct 3rd party Party Votes Pct
2002 Alex Sanders 487,359 44% Lindsey Graham 600,010 54% Ted Adams Constitution 8,228 1% Victor Kocher Libertarian 6,648 1% *
2008 Bob Conley 785,559 42% Lindsey Graham 1,069,137 58% Write-ins 608 <1%
2014 Brad Hutto 480,933 39% Lindsey Graham 672,941 54% Thomas Ravenel Independent 47,588 4% Victor Kocher Libertarian 33,839 3% *
2020 Jaime Harrison 1,110,828 44% Lindsey Graham 1,369,137 54% Bill Bledsoe Constitution 32,845 1%

Primary elections

2008 United States Senate Republican primary election in South Carolina
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Lindsey Graham (incumbent) 187,736 66.84%
Republican Buddy Witherspoon 93,125 33.16%
Total votes 280,861 100.00%
2014 United States Senate Republican primary election in South Carolina
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Lindsey Graham (incumbent) 178,833 56.42%
Republican Lee Bright 48,904 15.43%
Republican Richard Cash 26,325 8.30%
Republican Det Bowers 23,172 7.31%
Republican Nancy Mace 19,634 6.19%
Republican Bill Connor 16,912 5.34%
Republican Benjamin Dunn 3,209 1.01%
Total votes 316,989 100.00%
2020 United States Senate Republican primary election in South Carolina
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Lindsey Graham (incumbent) 317,512 67.69%
Republican Michael LaPierre 79,932 17.04%
Republican Joe Reynolds 43,029 9.17%
Republican Duke Buckner 28,570 6.09%
Total votes 469,043 100.00%

Personal life

Graham has never been married and has no children. He helped raise his sister, Darline Graham Nordone, after the deaths of his mother and father, which occurred within 15 months of each other, leaving the two without parents when Graham was 22 and she was 13. Graham has said that his parents' early deaths made him mature more quickly, and Nordone, who introduced her brother at his 2016 announcement of his candidacy for president, said she hoped to be with him on the campaign trail frequently to show voters his softer side. "He's kind of like a brother, a father and a mother rolled into one," she said. "I've always looked up to Lindsey."

Graham lives in Seneca, South Carolina. A Southern Baptist, he is a member of the Corinth Baptist Church.

On August 8, 2021, Graham became the first fully vaccinated senator to test positive for COVID-19.

See also

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