Lindsey Olin Graham (born July 9, 1955) is an American politician and retired U.S. Air Force Colonel serving as the senior United States Senator from South Carolina, a seat he has held since 2003. He is a member of the Republican Party.
A native of Central, South Carolina, Graham graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1977. He received his Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 1981. He served in the United States Air Force from 1982 to 1988 and served in the South Carolina Air National Guard then in the Air Force Reserves, attaining the rank of colonel. He worked as a lawyer in private practice before he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1992, serving one term from 1993 to 1995. He then served in the United States House of Representatives, representing South Carolina's 3rd congressional district from 1995 to 2003. He was elected to four terms, receiving at least 60% of the vote each time.
In 2002, Graham ran for the U.S. Senate after eight-term Republican incumbent Strom Thurmond announced his retirement. Graham won the primary unopposed and defeated Democratic opponent Alex Sanders in the general election. Graham was re-elected to a second term in 2008, defeating Bob Conley. He won a third term in 2014, defeating Democrat Brad Hutto and Independent Thomas Ravenel.
Graham is known in the Senate for his advocacy of a strong national defense, his support of the military, and as an advocate of strong United States leadership in world affairs. He is also known for his willingness to be bipartisan and work with Democrats on many issues like campaign finance reform, line item veto, global warming, waterboarding ban, immigration reform and his belief that judicial nominees should not be opposed solely on their philosophical positions. He is also a critic of the Tea Party movement, arguing for a more inclusive Republican Party.
On May 18, 2015, Graham informally announced his candidacy for President of the United States, followed by a formal announcement on June 21, 2015, in his hometown of Central, South Carolina. On December 21, 2015, he ended his campaign for the presidency. He later endorsed Jeb Bush for President. After Bush suspended his campaign on February 20, Graham subsequently endorsed Ted Cruz. In May 2016, Graham refused to support or vote for Donald Trump when he became the presumptive nominee; and later the Republican Presidential candidate.