Republican Party politician and, beginning in 2003, South Carolina member of the United States Senate. Before beginning his career as a Senator, he served South Carolina's third congressional district in the United States House of Representatives.
After graduating with degrees in psychology and law from the University of South Carolina, he served as a military attorney for the United States Air Force.
In the early 1990s, he briefly served in the South Carolina House of Representatives.
He grew up in Central, South Carolina, as the son of liquor store owners Florence James and Millie Graham. His parents both passed away when he was in his early twenties, at which point he legally adopted his younger sister.
In the United States Senate, he succeeded forty-eight-year Republican Senator from South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, following Thurmond's 2003 death.