The cash race for governor is in a dead heat after Republican challenger Catherine Templeton topped S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster’s quarterly receipts for the first time.
Templeton raised $602,874 from July through September, surpassing the $567,784 McMaster raised over the same time period.
McMaster and Templeton also finished the quarter with roughly tied in cash their campaigns had left to spend in their efforts to clench the GOP nomination for governor in June.
McMaster had $1.88 million to spend at the end of September, while Templeton had $1.85 million on hand, their campaigns said Tuesday, sharing some details about their fundraising efforts ahead of a midnight deadline to file quarterly reports with the state.
As the incumbent, McMaster has raised more money overall than Templeton – pulling in about $2.3 million to her $2 million so far in the race.
However, Templeton’s early fundraising success has surprised Republicans.
The Charleston attorney and former chief of two state agencies raised nearly $1.5 million through the end of June. A former state attorney general and lieutenant governor, McMaster raised nearly $1.8 million through the end of the quarter.
Templeton is touting support from three former S.C. Commerce secretaries, including Joe Taylor, who had considered running for governor himself.
McMaster will get some fundraising help of his own next week.
President Donald Trump is the special guest at a $250-a-head reception and fundraiser for McMaster Monday in Greenville.
McMaster was the first statewide official in the nation to endorse Trump before South Carolina’s pivotal first-in-the-South presidential primary.
The early nod also earned McMaster a spot endorsing Trump on the Republican National Convention stage.
Two other Republicans are seeking the GOP nomination.
▪ S.C. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, has raised $353,000 since he entered the race in late July and had just shy of $300,000 to spend at the end of the quarter.
All but $103,000 of the money raised came from Bryant himself. A pharmacist, Bryant gave $225,250 and loaned another $25,000 to his gubernatorial bid.
▪ Republican Yancey McGill of Williamsburg County raised $26,745 from July through September, posting his weakest fundraising quarter yet.
The former Democratic state senator and lieutenant governor has raised $447,164 since he entered the race in April last year. But he has spent most of it. According to his report, McGill had $2,386 in the bank at the end of September.
The race for the Democratic nomination is just getting started.
State Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, who officially announced his candidacy last week after long considering a bid, has given his campaign $1,500.
On Tuesday, Charleston business consultant Phil Noble said he also is running.
The race for S.C. governor
A look at what Republican candidates had raised and had left to spend at the end of September:
S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster
Total raised: $2,334,626
Left to spend: $1,887,563
Total raised: $2,055,914
Left to spend: $1,853,714
Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant
Total raised: $353,043
Left to spend: $290,870
Total raised: $447,164
Left to spend: $2,386