SC Dems Gov Smith Noble Willis (copy)

Democratic candidate for South Carolina governor, from left to right, Phil Noble, James Smith and Marguerite Willis. Provided photos.

State Rep. James Smith leads the fundraising race in the Democratic primary for governor, but Florence antitrust attorney Marguerite Willis is keeping pace by kicking in her own money.

The latest round of campaign finance reports shows Smith had around $622,000 in his campaign war chest to Willis' $598,000 at the end of March.

The third candidate in the Democratic primary, Charleston businessman Phil Noble, still had not filed his quarterly campaign finance report as of Monday evening.

In the first three months of the year, Smith raised just over $403,000.

While his cash is significantly less than the total raised by two Republicans — $741,000 by Gov. Henry McMaster and $558,000 by Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton — Smith's campaign noted his average contributions were much smaller, meaning more donors are giving money to his campaign.

Smith said he is proud to have received a higher number of contributions than all other candidates for governor combined to start off 2018.

"With over 2,600 donations since January alone, and over 92 percent from right here in South Carolina, this is truly a campaign fueled by grass-roots supporters from every corner of the state," said Smith, a state House lawmaker from Columbia.

"People from all walks of life are coming together to change our state for the better, and I am honored to have their support," he said.

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Since getting into the race in February, Willis raised around $130,000. But the first-time candidate added more than $460,000 of her own money through loans and contributions to put herself near level footing with Smith as the June 12 primary approaches.

The filing deadline was April 10, meaning the State Ethics Commission could fine Noble's campaign for the late report as the five-day grace period has come to an end.

On the campaign trail, Noble has argued the state's ethics laws are too lax and called for stricter requirements.

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

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