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Jaime Harrison breaks record for biggest fundraising quarter by any Senate candidate ever

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COLUMBIA — Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham in South Carolina's high-profile U.S. Senate race, brought in more money in the last full fundraising quarter of the contest than any Senate candidate over a similar period in American history. By a lot.

With a staggering $57 million haul from July through September, Harrison shattered the three-month record set in 2018 by Texas Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who was challenging U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and brought in $38 million in his final full quarter of that race.

The extraordinary amount, announced by Harrison's campaign Sunday, brings his total for the race to $86 million, multiples more than any South Carolina candidate ever and far outpacing Graham's own fundraising, which would be considered formidable in any previous election cycle. Harrison's haul so far passed the $80 million O'Rourke raised for his 2018 entire campaign.

"This campaign is making history because we're focused on restoring hope back to South Carolina," said Harrison campaign spokesman Guy King. "After 25 years in Washington, Lindsey Graham has changed into someone voters no longer recognize, and these resources will be instrumental in our efforts to send Lindsey home in November."

Graham has yet to reveal his third quarter total, but there is little doubt Harrison outraised him for the third consecutive fundraising period. Harrison has been significantly outspending Graham in the closing months of the race, forcing Graham to repeatedly ask Fox News viewers to contribute to his campaign.

Federal fundraising disclosures for the third quarter are not required to be filed until Oct. 15. Those reports will give a clearer picture of where the funds have been coming from, how much money the candidates have spent and how much they had left in the bank at the beginning of October.

Both candidates have raised most of their funds from outside of South Carolina, an indication of the acute national interest the race has drawn.

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In a statement, Graham congratulated Harrison "and his liberal allies" for breaking fundraising records.

"The problem is there's not enough money in the world to convince South Carolinians to vote for the radical liberal agenda being supported by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) and Jaime Harrison," Graham said. "South Carolina is not for sale."

Graham also said he looks forward to chairing the confirmation hearings for President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, beginning Monday — an opportunity he described as "priceless."

A high total for Harrison was expected after he had previously announced multiple million-dollar days last quarter, including right after a poll came out showing the two candidates tied. Almost a million donors have given to Harrison, with an average donation of $37, according to his campaign.

While Graham started the race as a strong favorite, Harrison's unprecedented fundraising has helped the challenger significantly narrow the gap, recently prompting election handicappers to adjust their rating of the contest to a "toss up," indicating it could now go either way.

Harrison, an associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, has been spending more than $7 million per week on television ads recently, according to the media tracking firm Advertising Analytics, blanketing South Carolina airwaves.

The massive spending has prompted top GOP outside groups to swoop in to help Graham. The Senate Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC focused on preserving the party's Senate majority, recently announced it would spend $10 million in South Carolina in the closing weeks of the race. 

Follow Jamie Lovegrove on Twitter @jslovegrove.

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