COLUMBIA, SC — U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham has $7.6 million to spend – more than he ever has had to spend in his Senate career – after raising more than $1.3 million during the last three months of 2013.
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, a North Charleston Republican who faces his first statewide election after being appointed to the Senate, finished 2013 with $3.1 million to spend.
Graham faces four Republican challengers in June’s primary: state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, Easley businessman Richard Cash, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor and Charleston public relations executive Nancy Mace.
Three of those challengers – Cash, Connor and Mace – finished 2013 with a combined $750,000 to spend. Thus far, Graham’s challengers also have been unable to line up support from deep-pocketed outside political groups that could make a difference in competing financially with the Seneca incumbent.
Bright’s campaign fundraising numbers were not available early Friday night.
Graham’s fundraising quarter, his second-best ever, did not appear to be tarnished by October’s government shutdown or Congress’s dismal approval rating.
“Senator Graham has been blown away by the incredibly strong support from every corner of South Carolina,” said campaign manager Scott Farmer. “The momentum continues to build, and we’re looking forward to a spirited campaign on Senator Graham’s conservative record.”
Graham’s fundraising report was not available for view Friday.
But a campaign spokesman said notable contributors include University of South Carolina alum, donor and Houston Texans owner Bob McNair; Al Hoffman, former Republican National Committee finance chairman and U.S. ambassador to Portugal; Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt; former S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice David Harwell and S.C. Ports Authority chairman Bill Stern.
Earlier last year, Graham reported donations from former President George W. Bush; Henry Paulson, former U.S. Treasury secretary and chief executive of Goldman Sachs; Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Connor – the only one of Graham’s challengers to have run for statewide office before, losing the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor to Ken Ard in 2010 – raised $253,796 from mid-November, when he entered the race, to the end of the year. Connor said he is the only viable challenger to Graham.
Connor did not return requests Friday for comment on whether that amount included a $210,000 contribution that he said he had made to his campaign, according to a Facebook video of Connor speaking to the GSP Republican Women, posted this month.
Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel, reported raising $256,333 for the quarter, ending the year with $241,200 to spend.
Cash, who lost a close GOP primary for Congress in 2010, reported having about $255,400 on hand, after raising $76,200 during the quarter. Cash also gave his campaign a boost last year, putting in about $200,000 of his own money.
One Democrat, Jay Stamper of Columbia, raised more than $14,000 during the fourth quarter, ending the year with less than $4,000 to spend.
For all of 2013, Graham raised $5 million, putting his total money raised for this six-year election cycle at $10.7 million, according to his campaign.
His opponents are pushing a message that S.C. conservatives are tired of Graham – criticized for his willingness to compromise with Democrats on issues including immigration, the federal budget and President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees.
Graham’s strong fund raising shows he has “the ability to overwhelm any opposition,” said USC political science professor Bob Oldendick.
One question for Graham’s challengers, Oldendick said, is whether all of them should remain in the race or choose a frontrunner to rally behind.
U.S. Sen. Scott finished the year with $3.1 million to spend in his first statewide campaign after being appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to the Senate to fill a vacancy left when Jim DeMint resigned.
Scott faces two Democratic challengers.
Rick Wade of Columbia, a former Obama campaigner and U.S. Commerce Department deputy chief of staff, entered the race on Jan. 2 and had no 2013 fundraising to report, a spokesman said. Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson also announced her bid for the Democratic nomination. She declined to discuss her fundraising totals Friday.
Also, Brandon Armstrong, a Mount Pleasant painting contractor, said she has 4,000 signatures toward a petition to run against Scott as an independent. Armstrong said Friday she won’t start fundraising until her she files her petition.
Friday was the deadline for Senate candidates to postmark or deliver their fundraising reports to the Senate. They will be posted online later.
What candidates for Congress reported:
Candidate; 4th-quarter fundraising; cash on hand
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca: $1.3 million; $7.6 million
State Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg: Not available
Richard Cash, R-Anderson: $76,156; $255,432
Bill Connor, R-Orangeburg: $253,796; $223,563
Nancy Mace, R-Charleston: $256,333; $241,200
Jay Stamper, D-Columbia: $14,230; $3,350
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-Charleston: $433,471; $3.1 million
Rick Wade, D-Richland: Entered the race on Jan. 2 and had no 2013 fundraising to report
County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, D-Richland: Declined to discuss her fundraising totals Friday
U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-Lancaster: $131,285; $222,340
U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Horry: $68,730; $352,538
U.S. Rep. Jeff Duncan, R-Laurens; $33,410; $155,622
U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg; $41,086; $389,671
U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston; $160,691; $325,656
Reports by U.S. Reps. Jim Clyburn , D-Richland, and Joe Wilson , R-Lexington, were not available yet online. A spokeswoman said Wilson had $260,000 to spend at the end of 2013.
Reach Self at (803) 771-8658.