Sen. Lindsey Graham defeated six challengers Tuesday night in South Carolina’s Republican party primary, surpassing the 50% vote threshold to avoid a runoff.
With 97% of precincts reporting that the 58-year-old led his Republican opponents with 57% of the vote. Finishing a distant second was state Sen. Lee Bright, who received 15% of the vote.
“I want to thank the good Lord,” Graham said during his victory speech. “I want to thank the voters. Without you, we would be crying right now. To those who voted for me, I’m not going to let you down. I can’t promise you, you will always agree with me but I promise you I will do what I think is best for all of us.”
The victory is a triumph for the South Carolina Republican, who is largely known for his hawkish foreign policy beliefs. Graham was considered especially vulnerable to a tea party challenge given his immigration stance and openness to bipartisanship on some key issues.
Graham, who was elected to the office in 2002, is all but assured victory in the November general election in this deep-red state. He faces Democratic State Sen. Brad Hutto, and Libertarian Victor Kocher.
Also in South Carolina Tuesday, fellow Republican Sen. Tim Scott easily won his primary, setting the stage for the state to elect its first African-American to the U.S. Senate.
Scott was appointed to the Senate in 2013 by Republican Gov. Nikki Haley after Jim DeMint resigned to run the conservative Heritage Foundation. Scott had not previously faced a statewide election.