Graham challenger, Harrison, shatters Senate fundraising record with $57M haul

Harrison’s huge cash haul saw him break former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s quarterly fundraising record

South Carolina Senate candidate Jaime Harrison’s campaign announced on Sunday that it raised a whopping $57 million in the third quarter of 2020 – shattering fundraising records for a Senate race and adding more concern to incumbent Sen. Lindsey Graham’s chances of keeping his seat.

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Harrison’s huge cash haul saw him break former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke’s quarterly fundraising record – which was set in 2018 as he faced off against Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas – by almost $20 million.

“This movement has beaten fundraising records, polling records, and expectations,” Harrison tweeted on Sunday. “Nobody thought a round-headed boy from Orangeburg could take on @LindseyGrahamSC, but with you by my side, we've done just that.”

He added: “Let’s bring it home.”

The battle between Graham and Harrison is arguably the most surprising match-up this election, as early in the campaign season Graham – a longtime Washington insider and close ally of President Trump – was expected to easily trounce the upstart Harrison.

But just last week, the influential Cook Political Report changed its outlook on the South Carolina race from “leans Republican” to “toss up.”

Cook called the race the most "surprising race" of the year. Graham, the incumbent Republican senator, is going up against Democratic upstart Jaime Harrison.

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"It's a jump ball at this point," one South Carolina Republican strategist told Cook. "Jaime is peaking at exactly the right time, and he's got a deluge of money. [Harrison] is blocking every pass there is from Republicans."

Graham, chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee who will play a major role this week during the confirmation hearing of Amy Coney Barrett, has held his seat for 18 years and served 10 years in the House before that. He cruised to victory in his last race in 2014 by 15 points. Harrison, on the other hand, has never held elected office.

Liberals are all-hands-on-deck for Harrison after Graham announced he’d move forward with confirming Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November election.

A Republican super PAC aimed at preserving the Senate’s GOP majority announced last week they will spend $10 million on advertising in the state in a three-week blitz beginning last Saturday. The announcement came after a liberal super PAC announced it was pumping $6.5 million into advertising in support of Harrison’s campaign.

Along with Sunday’s news, Harrison has outraised Graham in each quarter of this year, allowing him to blanket Palmetto State airwaves. He’s spent or reserved time through Election Day on TV and digital ads of upwards of $60.3 million, according to Cook. Meanwhile, Graham has spent or reserved $20.6 million so far.

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Still, the Graham campaign said their internal polling has them on track for a victory in November, noting that Graham is "fighting for every vote."

“Sen. Graham is fighting for South Carolina, helping families and businesses get through the pandemic, and working to ensure a conservative Supreme Court with Judge Amy Coney Barrett as the newest member.  Meanwhile, Democrat Jaime Harrison in on his way to spending $100 million in out-of-state, liberal money in an attempt to buy a Senate seat with wall-to-wall negative ads," Graham campaign communications director T.W. Arrighi said in a statement to Fox News.

The Harrison campaign said the race rating had changed because Graham has changed.

“After 25 years in Washington, Lindsey has changed into someone who voters can no longer trust,” Harrison campaign spokesperson Guy King said in a statement. “Jaime Harrison’s values-driven campaign is exciting voters across the political spectrum, and addressing issues that Lindsey Graham forgot about long ago – like health care, broadband Internet, and COVID relief for small businesses. Less than a month from Election Day, this movement is in a prime position to defeat Lindsey Graham and bring hope back to all 46 counties of South Carolina.”

Fox  News’ Morgan Phillips contributed to this report.