Top Graham Donor Switches Sides, Now Backs Dem Rival Jaime Harrison

Richard Wilkerson, the former head of Michelin’s South Carolina based North America unit has gone from backing Lindsey Graham to endorsing his Democrat rival Jaime Harrison.

Harrison celebrated the switch on Twitter, writing:

Even @LindseyGrahamSC’s strongest supporters know he’s forgotten about them and that it’s time for change.

Dick Wilkerson brought jobs and opportunity to SC during his time at Michelin. Grateful for his support. Together, we’re going to !

Per PostandCourier, a former top South Carolina business executive and supporter of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has decided to back the Republican incumbent’s Democratic challenger in his 2020 re-election race.

Richard Wilkerson, the former chairman and president of Michelin’s Greenville-based North America operations, said he chose to endorse Democrat Jaime Harrison because of his experience working with him while Harrison lobbied on the company’s behalf in Washington, D.C.

From 2009 to 2016, when Harrison was a lobbyist at the now-defunct Podesta Group, he advocated for some of Michelin’s legislative priorities, including dredging the Port of Charleston and creating new tire manufacturing standards to improve fuel efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Wilkerson said the experience showed him “how hard he (Harrison) works to bring lasting economic opportunity to the people of South Carolina” and described him as “the change South Carolina needs.”

Michelin is one of South Carolina’s largest companies, employing almost 10,000 people in the state.

“I am confident that as our next U.S. Senator, he will be a tireless advocate for creating well-paying jobs, improving our state’s health care system, and training the next generation for the jobs of tomorrow,” Wilkerson said. “Jaime is the perfect candidate to bring together South Carolinians from all walks of life.”

Richard Wilkerson, the former chairman of Michelin North America