A new poll conducted for gubernatorial candidate Jim Rex shows the Fairfield County resident leading his Democratic rivals.
"Jim Rex is clearly the frontrunner among the Democrats in the race for governor," Zeke Stokes, Rex's campaign director, said of the poll, which had a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.
While Rex is the state's only statewide-elected Democrat, his fundraising abilities have been questioned.
However, Stokes said Rex's poll standings show "the other candidates will have to spend vast amounts of money just to get what we've already got. So, this idea that whoever raises the most money will get the nomination is a farce."
But one Democratic pollster says the poll doesn't bode well for Rex in the long race ahead.
According to the poll of 400 likely S.C. Democratic voters, conducted this week by Washington, D.C.-based Hamilton Campaigns:
- Rex, the state superintendent of education, is known by more of those surveyed than the other Democrats running for governor. More than 60 percent recognized his name. Forty-one percent had a favorable impression of Rex. In contrast, a majority of those surveyed did not know the four other Democratic contenders -Columbia attorney Dwight Drake, state Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston, Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden.
- If the Democratic primary were held today, a quarter of those surveyed said they would vote for Rex. A majority - 43 percent - were undecided.
- In a runoff between Rex and either Sheheen or Drake, Rex wins, receiving about half of the votes. Drake would receive about 17 percent and Sheheen about 14 percent, according to the poll. Other runoff scenarios were not included in the poll.
Democratic pollster Carey Crantford, who is not working for any of the gubernatorial candidates, said the poll shows Rex needs to raise a lot of money to stay competitive.
"If I'm advising someone who is the only statewide elected official, running against a group of people with no name ID, I'd be a little bit concerned with the numbers," Crantford said. "It shows the intrinsic strength that Rex has is only marginal."
Rex has been criticized for raising only about $81,000 in the last quarter, well behind several of his rivals.
However, supporters counter that Rex only had been in the race for a couple of weeks by the end of the quarter, giving him little time to raise money. They expect him to have much higher fundraising totals this quarter.