In fundraising, Graham leaves challengers in dust

08/07/2014 12:00 AM

08/07/2014 12:08 AM

Sen. Lindsey Graham burned through almost $10 million on his way to winning his party’s nomination for a third term in the Senate. But he saved enough to start the general election season with a clear financial advantage.

Graham, R-Seneca, had $2.7 million in his campaign account as of June 30, according to his most recent report filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The Democratic nominee, state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, reported about $51,000 on June 30. He has loaned $75,000 to his campaign.

Independent Thomas Ravenel of Edisto Island recently forgave a personal loan he made to a previous Senate campaign, and it appears he will start a new campaign account with about $235,000.

Libertarian Victor Kocher of Columbia reported $11,000 in his account, including a $10,000 loan.

The general election is Nov. 4.

Graham’s aggressive fund-raising allowed him to finance an advertising blitz to counter attacks that he isn’t sufficiently conservative. In the past 18 months, he raised about $6.5 million and spent $8.5 million to dispatch six GOP primary challengers.

He spent about $6.6 million on media alone, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.

Graham won the Republican nomination with 56 percent of the vote.

The most generous group of contributors to Graham’s campaign were employees and political action committees affiliated with South Carolina-based energy company Scana Corp., which together gave about $75,000.

Other major sources of donations included employees and PACs affiliated with General Electric, the Nelson Mullins Riley and Scarborough law firm, and Boeing, according to the Center of Responsive Politics analysis.

Hutto’s latest filing also shows donations of $1,000 each from the political action committees of Scana Corp. and Nelson Mullins.

All told, Hutto has received $156,000 in donations from individuals and $21,000 from PACs, including $10,000 from the leadership PAC of South Carolina’s only Democratic member of Congress, Rep. James Clyburn.

Among Hutto’s individual donors are Bernard Haire, mayor pro tem of Orangeburg; John Crangle, executive director of South Carolina Common Cause; and Henry Tisdale, president of Claflin University.

Ravenel, a reality television personality and former state treasurer, filed documents with the U.S. Senate and the FEC showing he closed an old campaign account affiliated with his unsuccessful run for the Senate in 2004, and opened a new account.

The old account had about $235,000 remaining from $250,000 he loaned the campaign in 2003. On July 28, Ravenel reported he had forgiven the loan and listed it as a contribution to his campaign.

The South Carolina Elections Commission on Wednesday notified Ravenel’s campaign that his petition signatures were approved and he is officially a Senate candidate.

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