Lindsey Graham's Democratic opponent shatters record with nearly $14m in recent fundraising

Griffin Connolly
COLUMBIA, SC - JANUARY 20: U.S. senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks to the crowd during the King Day celebration at the Dome March and rally on January 20, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. The event, first held in 2000 in opposition to the display of the Confederate battle flag at the statehouse, attracted more than a handful Democratic presidential candidates to the early primary state. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
COLUMBIA, SC - JANUARY 20: U.S. senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks to the crowd during the King Day celebration at the Dome March and rally on January 20, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina. The event, first held in 2000 in opposition to the display of the Confederate battle flag at the statehouse, attracted more than a handful Democratic presidential candidates to the early primary state. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

South Carolina Democratic Senate nominee Jaime Harrison, who is challenging Republican Senator – and Donald Trump ally – Lindsey Graham, raised a record $13.9m for his campaign in the second quarter of 2020, he announced on Tuesday.

The fundraising mark nearly doubles Mr Harrison's first-quarter haul of $7.3m, the Palmetto State's previous record for quarterly fundraising by a congressional candidate.

The former state Democratic party chairman's prolific fundraising "reflects the grassroots energy behind Jaime’s movement," his campaign said in a statement on Tuesday, and will enable it to "make the investments necessary to send Lindsey home for good."

Mr Harrison's campaign to oust Mr Graham, a longtime staple in Washington and one of the most vocal Republican senators, is widely considered a long shot by leading elections handicappers, despite the challenger's impressive fundraising.

Inside Elections with Nathan L Gonzales rates the race for South Carolina's Senate seat Solid Republican, while the Cook Political Report rates it Likely Republican.

An online poll in May from Civiqs found Mr Graham and Mr Harrison tied with 42 per cent support, though the margin of error was +/- 4.5 percentage points.

Mr Harrison's fundraising haul is indeed ludicrous: he raised 33 per cent more money than former Texas Democratic Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke ($10.4m) did in the second quarter of 2018 during his campaign to replace GOP Senator Ted Cruz.

Mr O'Rourke's campaign, which ultimately did not succeed, was widely lauded as a fundraising machine unlike any the Senate had ever seen from a challenger, and helped propel him into the 2020 presidential race for a time.

Mr Harrison's backers have insisted his race is different from Mr O'Rourke's.

More than one in every four South Carolinians is black, the most reliably Democratic racial demographic in the country.

US Senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks to the crowd during the King Day celebration at the Dome March and rally on January 20, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)
US Senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks to the crowd during the King Day celebration at the Dome March and rally on January 20, 2020 in Columbia, South Carolina (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The recent reinvigoration of the Black Lives Matter movement after the deaths in police custody of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta, and others could help increase turnout in black communities across the country, several elections experts have predicted.

Mr Graham is still likely to have a cash-on-hand advantage in the race. By 20 June, the senator had reported $13,936,243 still left in the campaign coffers, compared to Mr Harrison's $6,724,134 mark from his 20 May pre-primary filing.

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