Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his seat in the Senate, raised more than any other Senate candidate in U.S. history during the third quarter of this year, according to his campaign, furthering Harrison’s financial leg-up over Graham in the incumbent’s most competitive re-election race to date.
The $57 million raised by Harrison’s campaign surpasses the previous record of $38.1 million set by former Rep. Beto O’Rourke during his run for a Texas Senate seat in 2018.
Between the months of July and September, Harrison’s campaign saw 1.5 million donations from 994,000 donors at an average of $37.
A big fundraising boost ($1.5 million) came in the hours after Harrison’s first debate against Graham on Oct. 3, during which Harrison spoke from behind a plexiglass barrier while criticizing his opponent’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Though Graham’s team has not yet released third-quarter fundraising totals, he had $15 million on hand at the end of June and appeared to be struggling financially, tuning into Fox News twice to plead for funding and to complain Harrison is “killing me money-wise.”
Per Politico, Harrison drastically outspent Graham in TV and digital advertising this year—$52 million vs $19 million—and has $16 million reserved before election day, while Graham has just $4.8 million.
As demonstrated in the case of O’Rourke, who was defeated by incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz by a margin of 50.9% to 48.3% in 2018, fundraising advantages don’t always translate to wins. However, polls position Harrison as a formidable rival, with a Quinnipiac University survey last month reporting a tie between candidates at 48% and an internal poll by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee giving Harrison a slight edge over Graham.
“This campaign is making history, because we’re focused on restoring hope back to South Carolina,” campaign spokesperson Guy King told Forbes. “While Lindsey Graham continues playing political games in Washington, Jaime Harrison is remaining laser-focused on the real issues impacting people here … After 25 years in Washington, Lindsey Graham has changed into someone voters no longer recognize, and these resources will be instrumental in our efforts to send Lindsey home in November.”