Fundraising totals for the financial quarter are in, and U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett still holds the fundraising lead over other Republican and Democratic contenders running for governor.
Excluding the money candidates have transferred from other accounts, as well as loans and gifts they have given to their campaigns, Barrett, a Westminster businessman, has raised $1.3 million to date.
While Attorney General Henry McMaster has about $1 million on hand, about 73 percent of it was transferred from his attorney general re-election account.
"Congressman Barrett's conservative vision for job creation in South Carolina has struck a chord with voters and donors throughout the state," said B.J. Boling, Barrett's spokesman.
Once carryover money, loans and gifts are discounted, Democratic front-runner Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Kershaw County comes in second place. He has raised more than $730,000 -about half of Barrett's total.
And surprisingly, state Rep. Nikki Haley, who posted low fundraising for the financial quarter that just ended, comes in third place with about $359,000 raised since she announced her candidacy.
STRATEGIES THAT WORK
The way to the governor's office is paved with money.
And the candidates are using various strategies to fill their war chests to pay for campaign events, travel, staff and, in 2010, take their message to the air waves.
- Candidates, including Haley and state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex, are using a straight-up strategy of asking supporters to write checks in lieu of loaning or giving their campaigns personal money. Haley, a Republican, brought in about $359,000 in the quarter that just ended while Rex, a Democrat, raised nearly $82,000.
- Some, like Attorney General Henry McMaster, are transferring money from other re-election accounts into their gubernatorial accounts. Nearly 73 percent, or about $800,000 of McMaster's $1.1 million, has come from his attorney general account. When the transfers are excluded, McMaster's team has raised nearly $303,000. Barrett transferred $328,0000 of his nearly $1.7 million total from his congressional account.
"We are extremely proud so many of Attorney General McMaster's past contributors have given us permission to transfer their donations to his campaign for governor," said Rob Godfrey, McMaster's spokesman, noting that each donor has given written permission to transfer his or her donation from McMaster's 2006 re-election campaign to his gubernatorial campaign account.
- Others, like state Sen. Larry Grooms of Berkeley County and Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod, are relying on large personal loans and gifts. Grooms, a Republican, took out a $260,000 loan to fund his campaign and raised about $74,000. McLeod, a Democrat, gave his campaign $100,000 and raised $280,000.
It doesn't matter how candidates get the money, said Bruce Haynes, a Virginia-based political consultant who has worked on South Carolina campaigns.
It only matters that they have it to spend, he said.
"The strategy that works best is the one that gets you the most money in the bank the soonest," Haynes said. "Most voters don't look deep to understand the process of why you're leading in fundraising. They just understand you have more money than anyone else and that superficially indicates that you have more support than anyone else."
But political fundraiser Elizabeth Donahue disagrees. She said the amount a candidate raises, excluding loans and transfers, is the real test of his or her campaign's strength and an indicator of how the candidate will fare in a race.
"It actually shows the level of support they're getting from voters," said Donahue, owner of the Columbia-based Donahue Agency. "The person who is really raising money, not taking out loans and doing transfers, is the front-runner."