The fight to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is still an uphill battle—but it is also, at least, an incredibly well-funded one.
Jaime Harrison, Graham’s Democratic challenger, announced Tuesday morning that he had raised $13.9 million dollars between April 1 and June 30. It is the most money any Senate candidate in South Carolina, of either party, has raised in a single quarter—breaking a record Harrison set himself just last quarter with his $7.3 million haul. Harrison has been helped along by the distaste Democrats nationwide have for Graham, whose one-time appearance of moderation has been fully eclipsed by blind allegiance to President Trump since the president took office. (Graham’s second-quarter numbers have not yet been reported.)
Harrison, a longtime operative but a first-time candidate, had aspired to run a shoe-leather campaign to introduce himself to voters and excite the state’s huge number of Black voters who have often stayed home for general elections in the GOP stronghold. “You have such large pockets of African American voters, and the big thing is you have to persuade them that an election is important enough for them to come out and vote,” Harrison told me last fall.
The pandemic has, of course, changed those plans, and the money has helped Harrison change gears. The campaign has conducted a massive media blitz across local television and Black radio stations in recent months. Last week, the campaign began airing an ad that attempts to tie Graham’s loyalty to Trump to the exploding coronavirus death rate. Harrison has also been a top advertiser on Facebook since early June.
The race has not been polled since the end of May, when a poll from Civiqs, a left-leaning firm, found Graham and Harrison in a dead heat with 42 percent of support each. Earlier that month, national election forecasters tilted their race ratings ever so slightly in Harrison’s favor, moving the odds of Graham’s reelection from “Safe” to “Likely.”