South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham will visit Sarasota on Nov. 15 to receive the county GOP’s 2019 Statesman of the Year award.
“We are thrilled to have such a national conservative leader as Sen. Lindsey Graham as our 2019 Statesman of the Year,” said Jack Brill, acting chairman of the Republican Party of Sarasota. “Sen. Graham fits right in the mold with our previous Statesman winners, including President Donald Trump. Twice.”
The honor has become a draw to some of the most important Republican politicians in the nation. That includes President Donald Trump, who won the award twice.
Notably, the long-time Chairman of the Sarasota Republicans, Joe Gruters, rose this year to become chairman of the Republican Party of Florida. Gruters still holds the title of county chair while Brill, as acting chair, runs the day-to-day of the local chapter.
In addition to Trump, past recipients of the award include Florida Sen. Rick Scott, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney (Stateswoman of the Year), Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and Fox News host Sean Hannity.
“For a community the size of Sarasota,” Brill said, “this list of Statesman Award winners is impressive and shows the importance of the region to Florida and on the national stage. Sen. Graham continues to demonstrate that.”
The first time Trump came to Sarasota to accept the Statesman of the Year award, in 2012, it served as well as reason to come to Florida at the same time as the Republican National Convention. That the honor came despite an already tenuous relationship with then-presidential nominee Mitt Romney that drew national interest.
Graham is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, Budget Committee, and Appropriations Committee, where he serves as the Defense Subcommittee Chairman.
Of course, Trump once also had a tenuous relationship with Graham, who famously called Trump a “race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot” on CNN in 2015.
But Graham has since become one of Trump’s strongest Senate allies. He championed for the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the face of personal allegations leveled by Democrats.
The former presidential candidate maintains a reputation as a leading voice on foreign policy.
As a U.S. Representative, he served as one of the House managers during the impeachment proceedings for President Bill Clinton in 1998.
That’s especially notable as Democrats in the House embark on impeachment efforts against Trump now.
Graham has been among the most high-profile defenders on Trump in the most recent scandal, which involved allegations Trump engaged in a quid pro quo with Ukraine to investigate political rival former Vice President Joe Biden.
For example, after Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced the House would open an impeachment inquiry, Graham rushed to the President’s defense on Twitter.
“Those willing to impeach the president over this transcript have shown their hatred for @realDonaldTrump overrides reason,” he wrote, while also saying the House should go ahead with a vote on whether to pursue impeachment.
But more recently, Graham has shown himself to be sharply critical of Trump when he disagrees on foreign policy. For example, upon news Trump would pull back military support of the Kurds, Graham slammed the decision.
“Pray for our Kurdish allies who have been shamelessly abandoned by the Trump Administration,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “This move ensures the reemergence of ISIS.”
Tickets to the Sarasota event run $125, with sponsorships available. More information and the ability to make reservations can be found at the Republican Party of Sarasota website or the official Eventbrite site for the dinner.