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SC Democrat Jaime Harrison raises record $2.1M in bid for Lindsey Graham's US Senate seat

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Jaime Harrison

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jaime Harrison held a kickoff rally in his native Orangeburg on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. Harrison is challenging U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. File/Jamie Lovegrove/Staff

COLUMBIA — Democrat Jaime Harrison raised $2.1 million for his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham over the past three months, his campaign told The Post and Courier on Wednesday, bringing his total cash on hand to over $2.6 million more than a year away from the election.

The figure represents the most ever raised in a single quarter by a Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in South Carolina, breaking the record Harrison set himself with his $1.5 million haul last quarter.

"Our campaign is growing and powered by grassroots supporters across South Carolina and the nation," Harrison said. "I am fighting to ensure that every South Carolinian has access to affordable health care, good paying jobs and student loan debt relief."

A spokesman for Graham's campaign said they are still calculating his haul from the third quarter of 2019. But the incumbent Republican entered the quarter having already built a massive $6.4 million war chest, giving him a substantial head start over Harrison.

Harrison, a top national Democratic Party official, has now raised around $4 million total since he first began exploring a campaign in February.

The highest total ever raised by a Democratic Senate candidate in South Carolina for an entire campaign cycle is $6.2 million, which the state's then-superintendent Inez Tenenbaum brought in for her unsuccessful 2004 race against Republican Jim DeMint for the seat that had been held by Democrat Fritz Hollings.

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About 47,000 people gave a total of 85,000 contributions to Harrison for an average of approximately $24 per contribution, according to his campaign.

Hundreds of supporters turned out for Harrison's kickoff rally this past Sunday in his native Orangeburg, including 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, an influential Columbia Democrat who used to be Harrison's boss.

At the rally, Harrison lambasted Graham, who has become one of President Donald Trump's closest allies in Congress, for spending "most of his time on cable news or golfing" and said he is "no longer a statesman with integrity."

"I wish we could go back to the time when he stood up for what is right," Harrison said. "But folks, we can’t rely on that. We need leaders who will never leave home behind. We need leaders who will always represent the interests of those of us back home."

Harrison's campaign has also been buoyed by a recent poll funded by a Democratic group that supports black candidates, which found him to be just 7 percent behind Graham. But other early polls of the race have been less close, and Graham's campaign has expressed little anxiety in the early months of the race.

One other Democrat so far has launched a campaign to challenge Graham: Economist Gloria Tinubu. Graham has drawn several GOP primary challengers but none are expected to pose a significant threat.

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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