From The New York Times:
CHARLESTON, S.C. — When Senator Lindsey Graham joined forces last month with Senator John Kerry on a compromise to the climate change legislation known as cap and trade, it was the last straw for the Charleston County Republican Party.
The county party, which has traditionally been considered moderate, voted by a wide margin to censure Mr. Graham in harsh terms.
Their grievance list was long: it cited the senator for calling opponents of immigration law change “bigots,” holding the Republican Party “hostage” by participating in bipartisan maneuvers, voting for the Wall Street bailout and tarnishing the ideals of freedom.
(left to right: Joe “Kyle” Wilson, Lindseypoo “Kenny” Graham, Jim “Cartman” DeMint, Sparky Marky Mark “Stan” Sanford)
The party had no such criticism for the other senator from South Carolina, Jim DeMint.
In fact, Mr. DeMint, a Republican in his first term, is the leader of a movement to pull the party in the opposite direction from Mr. Graham’s conciliatory approach. The political action committee he founded, called the Senate Conservatives Fund, backs only candidates who are rock-solid conservatives, and adherents to his views have led the efforts to censure Mr. Graham.
The two senators say they are friends whose differences are exaggerated by the news media, and Mr. DeMint has not personally criticized Mr. Graham or called for his censure.
But their contrasting strategies have brought home to South Carolina the struggle over the future of the Republican Party and have put them on opposite sides of important Senate primaries in states like Florida, where Mr. DeMint supports a vocal conservative, Marco Rubio, and Mr. Graham supports Gov. Charlie Crist.
In California, Mr. DeMint supports Chuck DeVore, in defiance of the national party leadership and Mr. Graham, who said he would campaign for Carly Fiorina.
Here in South Carolina, Mr. Graham’s vote to confirm Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, among other positions, has cost him the support of many conservatives, as have his comments that voters want politicians to reach across the aisle and that Republicans need to do a better job of attracting younger voters and minorities.
The voting records of Mr. Graham and Mr. DeMint are actually not that far apart — according to the American Conservative Union, which gives Mr. Graham a lifetime rating of 90 out of 100, he voted with Mr. DeMint on bellwether issues 80 percent of the time in 2008. Mr. DeMint is the only senator the group designates as a “Defender of Liberty,” its highest accolade.
Instead, the two men diverge on their vision of the party’s future. Mr. DeMint, who declined an interview for this article after several requests, has said he would prefer having fewer, but ideologically pure, Republicans in the Senate rather than more Republicans who were ideologically suspect.
Mr. Graham takes the more pragmatic view, countering in an interview that neither he nor Mr. DeMint would be electable in states like Maine or California, but that a single centrist Republican senator from a moderate state could give the party enough votes to block President Obama’s major initiatives.
Mr. DeMint, a favorite of the tea party movement, a diffuse grass-roots group that taps into antigovernment sentiments, attracted widespread attention when he referred to health care legislation as Mr. Obama’s Waterloo, while Mr. Graham was one of 12 senators to join a yet-unsuccessful effort at a bipartisan health care compromise.
Political analysts in the state say it is difficult to tell how much the anger of the right will hurt Mr. Graham, who does not face re-election until 2014.