POST AND COURIER: One S.C. Democrat tops GOP congressional incumbent in fundraising while another nets most donations

By Jamie Lovegrove
February 1, 2018

 

COLUMBIA — As Democrats try to stage major upsets in deep red South Carolina, one Democratic congressional challenger built a hefty cash lead over a Republican incumbent.

Another received more individual donations than both GOP candidates, besting incumbent U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford of Charleston.

In the Midlands, Sumter Democratic businessman Archie Parnell, who lost in a surprisingly close special election to now-U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman last year, finished 2017 with about $236,000 in the bank, according to federal campaign finance filings this week.

Norman, R-Rock Hill, raised $82,710 over the last three months of the year, closing out 2017 with a little over $100,000 in his campaign account.

Parnell raised almost $240,000 from donations and kicked in an extra $100,000 of his own money. That brought his cash-on-hand at the end of the year to over $236,000 — more than double Norman's total, the latest Federal Election Commission data shows.

National Democrats have taken notice of Parnell's efforts. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recently added the 5th District race to a lengthy list of red districts the party is targeting to turn blue this year. The seat had been held by Republican Mick Mulvaney, who became the White House budget chief last year.

“With this strong fundraising quarter and the continued help from people who are ready for a change, we will once again have the resources to put up a strong fight in this district and take this seat back for the people," Parnell said.

In the Charleston-area race for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Sanford, the incumbent maintained a comfortable advantage over both of his two Republican and Democrat challengers, though the new contenders continued to show signs of growth.

GOP primary challenger Katie Arrington, a state representative from Summerville, raised $154,000 total, but $110,000 of that came from personal money.

With five months before the June 12 primary, she had more than $236,000 in the bank.

Democrat Joe Cunningham raised $115,000 and had almost $100,000 in his campaign account by the end of the year.

Still, Sanford continues to hold on to a vast campaign war chest of more than $1.5 million, the largest campaign account of any candidate in the state.

He raised more than $140,000 in the last three months of 2017, though around half of that came from political action committees and GOP party groups.

Cunningham touted his second consecutive quarter of leading the individual-donation tally as a sign of his campaign's strength.

"Thousands of individual donors are fueling our campaign for change to elect a citizen legislator, while it's clear that special interest PACs are bankrolling Mark Sanford's bid for a seventh term," Cunningham said.

In all five other congressional races around South Carolina, the incumbents — four Republicans and a Democrat — maintained overwhelming fundraising advantages.

Candidate

District

Party

Raised

Spent

Cash on Hand

Mark Sanford (i)

1

Republican

$140,401

$40,201

$1,573,402

Katie Arrington

1

Republican

$154,225

$30,566

$206,359

Joe Cunningham

1

Democrat

$115,629

$66,812

$97,979

Joe Wilson (i)

2

Republican

$157,046

$131,377

$645,882

Annabelle Robertson

2

Democrat

N/A

N/A

N/A

Sean Carrigan

2

Democrat

N/A

N/A

N/A

Jeff Duncan (i)

3

Republican

$136,333

$98,875

$148,351

Mary Geren

3

Democrat

$19,955

$18,729

$9,329

Trey Gowdy (i - dropped out)

4

Republican

$748,455

$422,277

$1,364,419

J.T. Davis

4

Democrat

$159

$59

$100

Will Morin

4

Democrat

$293

$0

$293

Ralph Norman (i)

5

Republican

$82,710

$113,803

$100,512

Archie Parnell

5

Democrat

$340,009

$109,778

$236,127

James Clyburn (i)

6

Democrat

$209,440

$133,345

$914,403

Tom Rice (i)

7

Republican

$188,808

$73,421

$966,572

Bruce Fischer

7

Democrat

$15,545

$7,544

$9,878