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SC Democrat continues record-breaking fundraising against Lindsey Graham with $3.5M

Election 2020 Senate Jamie Harrison (copy)

Democrat Jaime Harrison, who is seeking to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, speaks to Democrats gathered at the Spratt Issues Conference on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Greenville. File/Meg Kinnard/AP

COLUMBIA — Democrat Jaime Harrison raised more campaign funds for his underdog bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham over the last three months of 2019 than any candidate has brought in for a single quarter in South Carolina history.

The intake even topped the record Graham himself set in the previous quarter.

The $3.5 million figure released by Harrison's campaign Monday continues a remarkable streak for the Democratic challenger as he tries to catch up to one of the best-funded Republican incumbents in the  Senate. 

A spokesman for Graham's campaign said they are still tabulating the senator's fundraising total from the last three months of the year.

"Sen. Graham thinks he will ease his way to reelection, but he's about to face his greatest challenger and that is Jaime Harrison," said Harrison's campaign spokesman Guy King.

"Lindsey Graham has changed and people across South Carolina are asking one question: What happened to Lindsey?" King added.

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Harrison, a top official at the Democratic National Committee and a former S.C. Democratic Party chairman, now has over $4.6 million total in his war chest, according to the campaign. Graham, meanwhile, ended the previous quarter with nearly $8.4 million left to spend.

The consistent fundraising success from both campaigns, even during periods that are historically less lucrative, ensures that the 2020 U.S. Senate race will be the most expensive political contest in South Carolina history.

Both campaigns have capitalized on Graham's near-constant position in the national spotlight as one of President Donald Trump's most vocal congressional allies, allowing them to energize their respective political bases and draw far more interest and money than a typical South Carolina race.

With a total haul of $7.5 million for the race so far from more than 125,000 donors, Harrison has now raised more than any Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in South Carolina history a full 10 months out from Election Day.

Still, Republicans continue to shrug at Harrison's financial gains, suggesting that no amount of cash would be enough for a Democrat to win a U.S. Senate election in South Carolina for the first time since 1998 when Fritz Hollings was an incumbent.

"At the end of the day, Jaime Harrison is just a former D.C. lobbyist who supports impeaching President Trump," said S.C. GOP Chairman Drew McKissick. "While this may appeal to Hollywood elites and the Democrat donors, it’s not a winning strategy here in South Carolina."

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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