Upstate petition candidates struggling at fundraising

Across the Upstate region of South Carolina, from Oconee to Lancaster County, a series of petition candidacies are being waged for legislative seats in the November general elections, but many of them could face serious challenges getting their campaigns into high gear.

A review of campaign finance disclosures filed over the summer caution that many of them will be hard-pressed to fund viable candidacies, giving most major party candidates strong advantages as the fall campaign season kicks off. Candidates who enter the fall with good campaign warchests can begin the fall campaign season spending more of their time upon campaigning and reaching voters than those candidates who are still working on raising funds for their campaign.

Of the twelve races with petition candidates, the mid-July reports showed ten GOP candidates reported a total of $434,469,76 cash on hand (reports for an 11th Republican candidate were not found), three Democratic candidates with $81,209.25 (reports for an 4th Democratic candidate were not found) and twelve petition candidates with just 47,952.67.
In only three of those twelve Upstate races did petition candidates have an early fundraising lead over other candidates, but in two of those races, the GOP nominees had just won primary campaigns and were having to raise additional funds for fall campaigns. In all other races, petition candidates held no more than 33% of all cash on hand for their races.

The strongest advantage was GOP Senator Larry Martin, who had $131,769.12 on hand and faces a petition challenge from former State Rep. Rex Rice, who reported just $105.65 cash on hand.

Martin also had the most cash on hand of all Upstate legislative candidates, followed by GOP Senator Wes Hayes of Rock Hill ($70,202.11) and Democratic Senator Glenn Reese of Inman ($56,017.87). For House candidates, GOP Rep. Mike Forrester led with $66,620.01.

By contrast, Tommie Reece was the best fundraiser for the petition candidates, leading GOP Senator Mike Fair, with $17,560.67 on hand to Fair's $7,231.70.

If these early numbers are any indication, most petition candidates may be struggling to get their messages before voters this fall and even those who have current cash advantages may not hold those leads for long.

Next in this series will look at Lowcountry and Midlands region petition candidates, to see if they're faring any better ...

The breakdown for all candidates and races with petition candidate filings are below:

GOP DEM PET
Senate 2 131,769.12   NO REPORT   105.65
Senate 6 7,231.70 17,560.67
Senate 11 56,017.87 831.52
Senate 15 70,202.11 850
House 1 42,707.16  49.21
House 2 33,951.87  3,293.00
House 3 4,617.63  2,241.54
House 8 21,602.07  6,192.97
House 11 2,730.21 439.44 3,006.20
House 13 1,711.71  2,473.47
House 26  NO REPORT
House 34 66,620.01 R  1,711.71
House 36 47,321.07 R  9,235.16
House 44 4,005.01 24,751.94  401.57
TOTAL 434,469.67 81,209.25 47,952.67

LEGEND:
 - indicates races where petition candidates had initially filed to run as a Republican.
 - indicates races where petition candidates had initially filed to run as a Democrat.
Races highlighted in red are ones where contested primaries (all Republican) had also taken place.

Note:  The petition candidates in Senate 15 and House 11 had not previously filed with either major party before filing petition candidacies.

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