Politics & Government

Democrat Wade exits US Senate race citing fundraising woes

S.C. Democrats have lost their second candidate for statewide office in two days.

Rick Wade, a former presidential campaign adviser to Barack Obama and Cabinet director under Gov. Jim Hodges, said Thursday that he is ending his U.S. Senate bid to unseat Republican Tim Scott.

Wade’s announcement came a day after state Rep. Mike Anthony, D-Union, announced his exit from the race for state superintendent of education.

A former U.S. Commerce official and Obama campaign insider, Wade was the favorite in the race for the Democratic nomination for the Senate. His exit leaves Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson as the only Democrat in the race. Dickerson, who officially entered the race in November, reported having only $4,664 to spend at the end of the year.

Scott faces no GOP opposition in June’s primary and likely will cruise to a victory in November in his first-ever race for statewide office.

Scott was the 1st District congressman in December 2012 when Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to the Senate after Jim DeMint, R-Greenville, resigned to lead the Heritage Foundation.

Political observers have noted a Scott-Wade matchup would have been a historic race between two African-Americans in a state that has never elected a black to the Senate. But Scott, the first African-American to represent South Carolina in the Senate, had more than $3 million to spend at year’s end, giving him a huge advantage.

Dickerson also is African-American. But her lack of fundraising prowess, thus far, does not suggest she will mount a serious challenge to Scott.

Wade said his lateness in entering the race, in December, and fundraising challenges led him to drop out.

“As a native South Carolinian who cares deeply about the future of our state, I have made the extremely difficult choice to halt my campaign for the United States Senate,” Wade said in a statement.

“Being the underdog has never deterred me from taking on tough endeavors in my life,” Wade said. “I certainly had no illusions about being able to match a multimillion-dollar campaign war chest. But after a couple of months as a candidate, I’ve concluded that the timing of my entrance – less than a year before Election Day – had compressed the calendar too much for me to raise the money needed to mount a serious challenge.”

Dick Harpootlian, former chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party, said he spoke with Wade about the race.

“Without national money weighing in, that was a longshot at best,” Harpootlian said. “Money is, if not the first criteria, (one of) the top two criteria, if one is going to run for statewide office.”