SC GOP warming up to Romney?

Contributionsto his campaignhave soared

gnsmith@thestate.comSeptember 25, 2012 

Anomaly Election

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2012 file photo, Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gets ready to board his campaign plane in Los Angeles. Never have American voters re-elected a president whose work they disapprove of as much as Barack Obama. Not that Mitt Romney can take much comfort _ they've never elected a challenger with such high disapproval ratings, either. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)


  • More information A look at S.C. fundraising for President Barack Obama and GOP nominee Mitt Romney and where they’re raising the most money Obama Nearly $1.5 million raised in South Carolina so far; his best ZIP codes have been: 294XX (Greater Charleston/Lowcountry) — About $430,000 raised 292XX (Columbia and Midlands) — Nearly $296,000 296XX (Greenville and Upstate) — About $214,000 Romney Nearly $1.9 million raised in South Carolina so far; his best ZIP codes have been: 294XX (Charleston) — Nearly $479,000 raised 296XX (Greenville) — About $371,000 raised 292XX (Columbia) — Nearly $188,000 raised SOURCE: Federal Election Commission

S.C. Republicans increasingly are opening their wallets to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.


• In the first four months of this year, a period that included Romney’s loss to Newt Gingrich in the state’s primary, the former Massachusetts governor’s campaign raised just $237,000 from S.C. donors, according to data from the Federal Election Commission.

• In the past four months, as Romney became the likely and then official Republican nominee for president, his S.C. donations soared, totaling nearly $864,000.

It’s unclear whether S.C. Republican donors genuinely are warming to Romney or are resigned that he is their only chance to oust Democratic President Barack Obama, who they desperately want out of office.

“Examining fundraising numbers at 10,000 feet, those two things are nearly indistinguishable,” said Winthrop political scientist Scott Huffmon.

There are indications this could be an “anybody but” election for many voters and, perhaps, some donors.

A new poll from the Washington Post and the Pew Research Center found just 54 percent of U.S. voters are “very” or “fairly” satisfied with their options in the rapidly approaching November presidential election, down sharply from four years ago.

Satisfaction with the presidential choices has declined for both Republicans and Democrats, and is lower than it has been in any contest since 1992, according to the poll.

South Carolina and its nine electoral votes are not key to either presidential campaign. While neighboring North Carolina is being contested by the two camps, the Palmetto State is expected to vote for Romney just as it has for every other Republican presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Romney has raised nearly $1.9 million in the state since the presidential race got under way in January 2011 compared to Obama’s nearly $1.5 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

That’s a big jump for Romney from four years ago. Romney took in only $397,000 from S.C. donors during his entire 2008 presidential bid, when he came in fourth in the S.C. GOP primary and lost the GOP nomination to U.S. Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Obama, who beat McCain for the presidency, took in nearly $2.3 million from S.C. sources that election cycle.

This year, both Romney and Obama owe a big thank you to the Lowcountry, the region of the state that has donated more to both candidates than any other area.

Communities with ZIP codes that begin with 294 — including Charleston, Summerville and Georgetown — have donated more than $478,000 to Romney and more than $430,000 to Obama.

Elsewhere in the state, Romney has raised more in the conservative Upstate — about $371,000 — while Obama has raised more in the Midlands — nearly $296,000.

In the Midlands, Romney’s top donors include developer Stewart Mungo, Southeastern Freight Lines president Tobin Cassels III and attorneys Kevin Hall and Butch Bowers, whose law firm represents top S.C. Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley.

Haley has not donated to Romney’s campaign, according to the filings, but has endorsed his candidacy and campaigned for him Monday to North Carolina, Virginia and Florida.

Obama’s top Midlands donors include Rick Wade, a senior Obama advisor; attorney Matthew Richardson, unsuccessful Democratic candidate for state attorney general in 2010; and S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian and other attorneys in his office.

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