COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has won South Carolina’s Republican party primary outright, defeating six challengers and avoiding a runoff.

The 58-year-old Graham had about 59 percent of the vote in early returns Tuesday, far more than what was needed to avoid the runoff.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after attending a closed-door briefing with intelligence officials. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Graham’s challengers had argued he was not conservative enough. But 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.

Graham faces Democratic State Sen. Brad Hutto, as well as Libertarian Victor Kocher, in the November general election.

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