Senator Lindsey Graham’s Democrat challenger, Jaime Harrison, raised more than $22 million during the first two weeks of October in a race that has unexpectedly become a dead heat than two weeks before Election Day.
Harrison, who is running against Graham for his Senate seat in South Carolina, usually a reliably red state, pulled in just under $22.1 million from Oct. 1 to 14, according to new Federal Election Commission filings. Graham raised less than half that amount, $9 million, during the same period.
The two have the first and second highest fundraising totals for a Senate candidate in the two-week period. Despite Harrison’s eye-popping fundraising haul, Graham currently has more cash on hand than his opponent, with about $7.3 million in the bank to Harrison’s less than $3.5 million.
Both candidates have spent more than they have raised, however. Graham spent close to $16.5 million, and Harrison spent $26.6 million.
Boosted by Democrats enthused by a chance to unseat Graham, a three-term senator and frequent Trump ally, Harrison has broken fundraising records this year, raising close to $100 million in 2020 including $57 million in the third quarter.
This election cycle is a far cry from Graham’s last reelection race in 2014, when he won by 15 percentage points.
Polls show Harrison, who chaired the South Carolina Democratic Party from 2013 to 2017 and was a top aide to South Carolina congressman James Clyburn, effectively tied with Graham.
Harrison’s campaign manager told supporters that the campaign must raise $10 million more in the final days of the race to catch up to GOP spending.
“To make history on Election Day and defeat Lindsey Graham, our fundraising has to pick up so we can match Mitch McConnell,” Harrison’s campaign said.
Before running for office, Harrison had a successful career as a Washington lobbyist, earning $1.6 million from 2012 to 2016 when he worked for the powerful Podesta group, which shuttered in 2017 amid a Justice Department probe of the group’s foreign lobbying practices.
Harrison’s Senate campaign in South Carolina has since received donations from lobbyists amounting to tens of thousands of dollars.
Graham suggested this week that Harrison’s money may be coming from less than ethical sources.
“Some of these shadowy figures running ads, is there any foreign influence afoot?” Graham said.