Republican Gov. Nikki Haley widened her fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Vincent Sheheen to start the 2014 election year.
Haley had $2.6 million more on hand than Sheheen as of March 31 – up by $300,000 from the end of 2013, according to records filed Thursday with the State Ethics Commission.
The governor from Lexington, who is seeking a second, four-year term, has raised money since taking office in 2011, holding fundraisers across the country. State Sen. Sheheen of Camden, who lost to Haley by 4.5 percentage points in 2010, started raising money a year ago, but Haley has outraised him by $1 million during that period.
Haley’s GOP primary rival Tom Ervin, who joined the race late last month, has loaned his campaign $420,181, according to state records. The former Greenville lawmaker and judge had $271,172 on hand after spending money on a consultant and automated robocalls. He did not list any outside contributors.
Sheheen does not have a primary challenger.
However, the challenge for the GOP nomination by Ervin, who hopes to make a key issue out of the Haley administration’s handling of child deaths at the S.C. Department of Social Service, could force the incumbent to spend some of her campaign cash in June’s Republican Primary.
Thus far, Haley’s campaign has not had to spend any money to pay for three major advertising blitzes on her behalf that have aired in the past year. The ads have been paid by a pro-Haley political group, The Movement Fund, and the Republican Governors Association, where Haley is on the executive committee.
In the first three months of the year, Haley raised $863,416 – her second-largest quarterly haul in this election cycle, according to state data. She took in $950,567 during the fall of 2013.
Haley has $4.27 million to spend. She has raised $5.9 million during this election cycle – nearly $2 million more than she raised during her 2010 campaign, which included a heated GOP primary and runoff.
“The governor is grateful for the generous support of so many across our state, support that means we will have the resources over the months ahead to tell the incredible story of South Carolina’s resurgence since 2011,” Haley campaign adviser Tim Pearson said.
Sheheen raised $563,248 during the first three months of the year – his second-best fundraising quarter since entering the race, his campaign reported. He had $1.72 million on hand as of March 31.
“South Carolinians are hungry for new leadership, they believe in Vincent’s vision for the future, and they want a leader with his track record of working across the aisle to get results,” Sheheen campaign manager Andrew Whalen said.
The Camden attorney has raised $2.23 million in the year since he decided to run against Haley again.
Two-thirds of Haley’s contributors during the first quarter were from South Carolina. Their donations accounted for a little more than half of the money that she raised.
Sheheen had not posted his detailed report to the State Ethics Commission website by 10 p.m. Thursday.
Libertarian candidate for governor Steve French raised $8,525 in the quarter. United Citizens candidate Morgan Reeves did not list any contributions.
McKinney leads candidates for lieutenant governor
In the fight to succeed Republican Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, three GOP candidates who entered the race last month are working to catch up with a Haley ally, who started running for the position last year.
Charleston developer Pat McKinney, whom the governor appointed to the State Ports Authority, raised $94,859 in the first quarter and had $544,647 on hand as of March 31. He has raised $723,150 during his eight months on the political stump, including lending his campaign $245,000.
Mike Campbell, a Columbia businessman and son of late Republican Gov. Carroll Campbell, kicked in about two-thirds of the $2,775 that his campaign collected during the first quarter. He had $862 on hand.
State GOP stalwart Henry McMaster did not list any fundraising except for a $1,862 personal loan that went toward his primary filing fee. His campaign said the former state attorney general has collected nearly $30,000 so far.
Ray Moore, a Columbia pastor running as a Republican, raised $10,825 and has $7,567 on hand.
The race’s only Democrat – state Rep. Bakari Sellers – raised $74,864 in the first three months of the year. The Denmark attorney had $106,026 on hand as of March 31 after raising a total of $212,534.