Elections

Warren gave $3.3 million to his failed campaign for SC governor

John Warren loses GOP runoff to McMaster

John Warren speaks to his supporters after losing the GOP runoff to Gov. Henry McMaster at Westin Poinsett Hotel Tuesday June 26, 2018, in Greenville, SC.
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John Warren speaks to his supporters after losing the GOP runoff to Gov. Henry McMaster at Westin Poinsett Hotel Tuesday June 26, 2018, in Greenville, SC.

Greenville businessman John Warren pumped another $300,000 into his largely self-financed campaign to win the GOP nomination for S.C. governor in its final months, bringing his total tab for his failed bid to more than $3.3 million.

Or, put another way, political newcomer Warren could have paid tuition for 261 USC students for a full year, starting next fall; bought 52 BMW X6s, built in Greer; or paid for 132,052 Mighty Meaty pizzas from the Gervais Street Mellow Mushroom, excluding tax and tip.

Overall, Warren — a former Marine officer who founded a real estate lending firm — raised $4.1 million from donors and his own bank account for his effort to unseat S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster, according to campaign filings disclosed Wednesday.

Quarterly fund-raising reports, covering campaign activity from April to the end of June, were due Tuesday for statewide candidates. However, candidates have a five-day grace period to file the reports, giving them until midnight Monday before their filings are considered late.

Warren, the 39-year-old founder of Lima One Capital, was virtually unknown to S.C. voters in February, when he entered the GOP race for governor. Four months later, Warren forced McMaster — a fixture in S.C. Republican politics for 35 years — into a runoff for the GOP nomination after a contentious five-way primary.

Warren pitched himself as a fresh-faced political outsider who would clean up a corrupt State House culture and reshape state government with his military and business experience.

In addition to investing another $300,000 of his own money, Warren raised more than $540,000 from donors from May 24 to June 30, with most coming from the Upstate. More than 90 percent of the money that Warren raised came from within South Carolina.

Warren spent more than $1.4 million during the filing period, including $923,000 on TV ads and another more than $395,000 on print marketing. His campaign ended with more than $165,500 cash on hand. Warren could use that money to launch a possible U.S. Senate primary contest against Republican incumbent Lindsey Graham.

Warren said last week he is "definitely considering" challenging Sen. Graham, R-Seneca, for his Senate seat in 2020.

Despite his sizable financial resources, Warren handily was outspent by McMaster during the GOP primary. The Richland Republican overall raised more than $5.6 million and spent $5.4 million in his bid to win his first four-year term as governor.

McMaster, who has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, faces state Rep. James Smith of Columbia, the Democratic nominee for governor, in the November general election.

Tom Barton: 803-771-8304, @tjbarton83
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