By MEG KINNARD
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - After his outright victory in Tuesday's GOP primary, a tearful U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham thanked his supporters for believing in him despite a six-way challenge to his conservative credentials.
The victory seemed personal to Graham, who bested six tea party challengers who had cast him as not conservative enough for this heavily Republican state to avoid a runoff. The two-term incumbent had about 56 percent of the vote in early returns, far more than what was needed to win outright. State Sen. Lee Bright came in second, with about 15 percent.
Graham, who has been in office since 2002, had a hefty fundraising advantage: He has raised more than $12 million since his last re-election bid in 2008, while none of his opponents passed the $1 million mark.