Graham Challenger Breaks US Senate Fundraising Record

October 11, 2020 Updated: October 11, 2020

South Carolina Democrat Jaime Harrison raised $57 million in the third quarter of 2020, breaking a previous U.S. Senate fundraising record by nearly $20 million.

Harrison is in a tight race against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an ally of President Donald Trump and the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is scheduled to hold its first confirmation hearing on Oct. 12 for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.

Harrison’s haul shatters the previous Senate fundraising record set in 2018 by Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke in his losing bid to oust Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas). Harrison’s campaign said it logged 1.5 million donations from 994,000 donors, and the average donation in the three-month period ending Sept. 30 was $37.

“This campaign is making history because we’re focused on restoring hope back to South Carolina,” Guy King, Harrison’s campaign spokesman, said in a statement. Harrison is an associate Democratic National Committee chairman and former lobbyist.

Graham’s campaign hasn’t yet posted its fundraising totals.

Harrison and Graham were statistically tied in three polls conducted in September.

In a debate earlier this month, they both said they would be willing to work with colleagues across the aisle.

From his opening statement and throughout nearly every answer of the hour-long debate, Graham worked in his support for a conservative judiciary and particularly for Barrett, whom he called a “buffer to liberalism” that he hoped “won’t be treated like Kavanaugh” in her confirmation hearings.

It was Graham’s fiery 2018 defense of Brett Kavanaugh that helped cement his now-close relationship with Trump, as well as renew support with some who hadn’t seen Graham as conservative enough to represent South Carolina. That moment, Graham said on Oct. 10, also riled up liberals he now says are pouring $100 million into Harrison’s campaign and groups supporting him, to try to oust Graham.

“Where the hell is all this money coming from?” Graham asked. “This is about liberals hating my guts when I stood up for Kavanaugh. This is about me helping President Trump.”

Harrison, 44, castigated Graham, 65, for what he characterized as contradictory positions on whether it’s appropriate to fill Supreme Court vacancies in a presidential election year.

“Senator, you said, ‘Use my words against me,’” Harrison said, referencing Graham’s 2018 comments on the subject. “Your promise was that no judicial nominee should be approved during the last year of an election. … How good is your word?”

Graham, pointing several times to his support of two of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, said Barrett “is going to be confirmed because the president has the constitutional authority to do it.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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