Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison, running to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, raised $57 million during the final full quarter of the campaign, shattering Senate fundraising records as his party seeks to wrest control of the chamber from Republicans.
Harrison’s haul was the largest single-quarter total by any candidate in US Senate history, swamping the previous record set in 2018 when Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke topped $38 million in the third quarter of that year in his unsuccessful Senate bid.
Graham has not yet released his fundraising totals. But Harrison has outraised him consistently this year – prompting the three-term Republican to appear on Fox News recently to implore viewers to send in donations. “They’re killing me, moneywise,” he said.
“This campaign is making history, because we’re focused on restoring hope back to South Carolina,” Harrison spokesman Guy King said in a statement. “While Lindsey Graham continues playing political games in Washington, Jaime Harrison is remaining laser-focused on the real issues impacting people here — like healthcare, broadband access, and COVID relief for businesses and families.”
In all, Harrison has raised $86 million so far in the election cycle.
Graham, a close ally of President Donald Trump, will be in the spotlight this week as he oversees the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the US Supreme Court.
The Republican push to confirm Barrett so close to Election Day has energized Democratic donors nationally. ActBlue, an online fundraising platform, said it raised $300 million online for Democratic candidates and causes in the days following Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.
Graham chairs the Judiciary panel and is leading the charge for a swift confirmation of Barrett, Trump’s third Supreme Court pick.
During a debate earlier this month in South Carolina, Harrison criticized Graham for reversing his stance that Supreme Court nominees should not be considered in an election year. Graham said Trump has the constitutional authority to fill the seat.
Harrison’s staggering fundraising total is the latest sign of Democratic fundraising enthusiasm as Election Day swings into view. Democratic challengers around the country have posted big totals in the July-to-September fundraising period.
In neighboring North Carolina, for instance, Democrat Cal Cunningham, topped $28 million in the third quarter for his challenge to Republican Sen. Thom Tillis. In the Iowa Senate race, once considered safely in the Republican column, Democrat Theresa Greenfield raised $28.7 million in the third quarter in her bid to oust Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.
Democrats need to net just four seats to flip control of the chamber; the number drops to three should Democrat Joe Biden win the presidency and his vice president, Kamala Harris, becomes the tie-breaker in the Senate.
The race in South Carolina has grown more contentious as polls tighten in a state Trump won by more than 14 percentage points in 2016.
The format of a debate between Harrison and Graham on Friday was changed after Harrison refused to participate unless Graham took a Covid-19 test. He cited Graham’s participation in an October 1 hearing with Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee, who had tested positive for the virus. Graham rejected that request, saying that he has previously tested negative. In the end, the two candidates took part in individual interviews.
CNN’s David Wright and Caroline Kenny contributed to this report.