Harrison goes on the attack against Graham in new South Carolina Senate ad

Democrat Jaime Harrison is returning fire on Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamLincoln Project offers list of GOP senators who 'protect' Trump in new ad The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools Democrats awash with cash in battle for Senate MORE (R) in South Carolina’s Senate race with a new ad accusing the GOP stalwart of playing politics with Congress’s coronavirus relief efforts. 

The six-figure TV and digital ad spot is set to debut Tuesday in all four South Carolina media markets and marks the first negative ad of Harrison’s general election campaign against Graham. The ad buy comes after Graham’s campaign unveiled an ad attacking Harrison as a “liberal Democrat” with a “far-left agenda.”

“People are losing their jobs — losing their lives,” Harrison says in the ad spot, which was shared first with The Hill. “But instead of attacking these problems, Lindsey Graham’s attacking me. Even worse, he’s attacking us.”

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Harrison accuses Graham of “opposing help for South Carolinians” amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and plays a clip of the GOP senator at an April 29 meeting of South Carolina’s coronavirus task force, saying that only “over our dead bodies” would he reauthorize the additional $600 unemployment benefit offered in a March coronavirus relief package.

“What happened to Lindsey Graham? People are hurting and Lindsey’s playing Washington games while we need to solve South Carolina problems,” Harrison says in the 30-second spot.

Graham’s attack and Harrison’s response signal the beginning of what is expected to be a bitter fight for the South Carolina Senate seat. 

South Carolina still largely favors GOP candidates in statewide elections, and election handicappers rate the contest as either “likely” or “solid” Republican. But Harrison, a former state Democratic Party chair and Democratic National Committee official, has proven himself to be an adept fundraiser, outraising Graham in the pre-primary period between April 1 and May 20 by nearly $600,000.

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Democrats are hoping that a changing electoral landscape in South Carolina will put the state into play this fall. Fueling those hopes is Rep. Joe CunninghamJoseph CunninghamHarrison goes on the attack against Graham in new South Carolina Senate ad Club for Growth unleashes financial juggernaut for 2020 races Focus shifts to House after Senate passes major public lands bill MORE’s (D) victory in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in Charleston in the 2018 midterm elections, as well as a wave of white and female voters who cast ballots in the state’s Democratic presidential primary in February.

But unseating Graham is likely to be an uphill battle, especially in an election year in which President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump on Kanye West's presidential run: 'He is always going to be for us' Marie Yovanovitch on Vindman retirement: He 'deserved better than this. Our country deserved better than this' Trump says Biden has been 'brainwashed': 'He's been taken over by the radical left' MORE is on the ballot. Trump carried South Carolina in 2016 by 14 points and remains more popular than not there. Polling data from the firm Civiqs shows his approval rating at 50 percent, quite a bit higher than his 41 percent national average.

South Carolina also isn’t among Democrats’ core targets in their bid to flip control of the Senate. The party needs to pick up three or four GOP-held seats — depending on who wins control of the presidency — in order to take a majority in the chamber, and so far their efforts have focused on races in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina.

Still, there’s some evidence that the Senate race could be a tight one. A Civiqs poll conducted last month showed Graham and Harrison tied with 42 percent of the vote.