Jaime Harrison Highlights Mitch McConnell Role in Lindsey Graham Fight Over Cash in South Carolina

With just one week to go before Election Day, both sides in the contentious South Carolina Senate race are accusing their opponents of trying to buy the election. And Democrat Jaime Harrison has highlighted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's part in campaign spending.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is facing an unexpectedly strong challenge from Harrison. Harrison raised a record-breaking $57 million in the third quarter, the most ever raised by a candidate for Senate in one quarter.

"Yes, we raised $57 million, but we spent $60 million," Harrison told AP. "But that is what we had to do in order to get this thing to toss-up status, in order to bridge the gap."

Graham raised $28 million over the same period. Though considerably less, his campaign has said the fundraising haul is the most ever brought in by a Republican Senate candidate in a single quarter.

Last week, Graham's campaign communications director, T.W. Arrighi, accused the Democratic candidate of trying to buy an election victory.

He tweeted: "The newly-declared 'Mr. Fiscal Reponsibility,' [sic] ladies and gentleman," referring to Harrison's spending. "Don't let Jaime Harrison buy a Senate seat," he added.

Shortly after that post, he wrote: "Jaime Harrison burned through $60 million trying to buy a Senate seat from his basement last quarter,"

"For those inquiring minds curious about where all that money came from, we dug through the reports for you...HINT: It wasn't from SC."

Three days later, the Harrison campaign accused Mitch McConnell (R-KY) of trying to buy the election for Graham through his SuperPAC, the Senate Leadership Fund.

In a statement, the Democrats' campaign said the fund was helping Graham outspend Harrison by making an investment of more than $20 million. They predicted that Republicans will outspend them 3 to 1 in the last week of the campaign.

"Mitch McConnell and his allies are outspending us and now dumping millions more dollars in the final days of this race in an effort to save Lindsey's failing campaign," said Harrison campaign manager Zack Carroll.

"This race is tied, and Jaime's grassroots movement is making Republicans in Washington nervous everyday," he said.

Democrats have privately urged billionaire and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to invest in close Senate races to counteract the effect of the Senate Leadership Fund, according to CNBC. Its Democratic equivalent, Senate Majority PAC, is being outraised and frequently outspent.

Polls in South Carolina have been mixed. FiveThirtyEight's poll tracker shows several pollsters reporting widely differing results. A Morning Consult poll had Harrison ahead 2 percent up to October 20, but a Starboard Communications poll of October 26 showed Graham leading by 9.

Senator Lindsey Graham Addresses Supporters
US Senator Lindsey Graham addresses supporters during a get out the vote rally at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in North Charleston, South Carolina on October 16, 2020. His campaign has accused his Democratic opponent of trying to buy a Senate seat. Logan Cyrus / AFP/Getty Images