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Harrison continues to outraise, outspend Graham in final weeks of expensive SC Senate race

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Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham (left) and Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison. 

COLUMBIA — Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison became the first U.S. Senate candidate in American history to pass the $100 million mark for fundraising and spending in early October as he continued to shatter national cash records in his race against South Carolina's Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham.

As he has for much of 2020, Harrison kept fundraising at a faster clip than Graham in the first two weeks of October, bringing in more than $1.5 million per day on average during the first 14 days of the month while Graham raised about $1 million per day over the same period, according to new fundraising disclosures.

But Harrison's rapid spending has significantly dwindled his campaign account, giving Graham a cash advantage as the candidates headed into the crucial home stretch.

Harrison raised more than $22 million in the first 14 days of October and spent more than $26 million in the same period, leaving him with less than $4 million left in the bank, according to his report filed late Thursday night. Graham raised almost $15 million, spent more than $16 million and had around $13 million left over.

The two-week period came amid intense national attention on the Supreme Court confirmation of President Donald Trump's latest nominee, appellate Judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Graham led the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearings for Barrett and is hoping it will help him shore up conservative support in South Carolina. He also sought to use it to help boost his campaign fundraising, including in an on-camera appeal outside the hearing room that prompted two ethics complaints against him.

The new totals mean Harrison has now both raised and spent more than $100 million overall, by far the most of any Senate candidate in American history. The previous record set in 2018 by U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., was $85 million, though much of that total was self-funded.

Harrison has used a sizable chunk of his war chest to help Democratic candidates in down-ballot races in South Carolina by transferring more than $9 million over the last few months to the S.C. Democratic Party.

Graham's total fundraising haul for the campaign has now climbed to over $70 million, which would be a record-breaking amount for a South Carolina candidate in any race before this one.

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The most expensive electoral contest in South Carolina history before this election cycle was the 2016 presidential primaries, in which all the candidates combined to spend around $42 million in the Palmetto State. Graham and Harrison are on track to approach as high as $200 million combined by the time this race is over.

The latest fundraising reports offer one of the last public looks into the state of the money race before the Nov. 3 election.

In South Carolina's most competitive U.S. House race, Republican challenger Nancy Mace has surged to a financial lead over Democratic incumbent Joe Cunningham in the Lowcountry's 1st Congressional District. Mace outraised and outspent Cunningham in early October, and still had more than double his cash reserves left on hand.

Mace raised around $518,000, spent almost $1.2 million and had more than $1 million left over in the first two weeks of the month. Cunningham, who started the general election race with a cash advantage, raised $314,000, spent more than $1 million and had $472,000 left on hand.

Meanwhile, in the Midlands' historically conservative 2nd Congressional District, Democratic challenger Adair Ford Boroughs continued to outraise Republican incumbent Joe Wilson, bringing in more than $200,000 in the first two weeks of October to Wilson's $83,000.

But Wilson is now outspending Boroughs, $546,000 to $408,000, as he has significantly ramped up his own presence on the airwaves to defend the seat he has held since 2001. Wilson had $240,000 left in his campaign account on Oct. 14, while Boroughs had $314,000.

All of the other congressional incumbents in South Carolina continued to comfortably outraise and outspend their challengers and had far more cash on hand for the closing stretch of their races.

South Carolina pre-general fundraising reports (Oct. 1-14)

Candidate Race Party Raised Spent Cash on hand
Lindsey Graham (i)* SCSen R $14,846,755 $16,464,186 $13,142,047
Jaime Harrison SCSen D $22,097,781 $26,597,418 $3,475,908
Joe Cunningham (i) SC01 D $314,054 $1,058,051 $471,683
Nancy Mace SC01 R $518,770 $1,196,149 $1,037,881
Joe Wilson (i) SC02 R $83,203 $545,896 $239,956
Adair Ford Boroughs SC02 D $205,760 $407,845 $313,936
Jeff Duncan (i) SC03 R $69,354 $45,258 $451,118
Hosea Cleveland SC03 D
William Timmons (i) SC04 R $70,318 $22,238 $188,607
Kim Nelson SC04 D $10,868 $13,853 $33,865
Ralph Norman (i) SC05 R $62,763 $230,968 $799,298
Moe Brown SC05 D $20,891 $70,115 $35,289
Jim Clyburn (i) SC06 D $110,398 $9,490 $1,999,316
John McCollum SC06 R
Tom Rice (i) SC07 R $14,710 $175,536 $1,155,688
Melissa Watson SC07 D $10,306 $17,720 -$1,026

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

Jamie Lovegrove is a political reporter covering the South Carolina Statehouse, congressional delegation and campaigns. He previously covered Texas politics in Washington for The Dallas Morning News and in Austin for the Texas Tribune.

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