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“FIGHTIN’ FIFTH” CAMPAIGNS FILE FINANCES …

Candidates for South Carolina’s fifth congressional district released their campaign finances this week – providing a key indicator of who will have the resources to compete as the special election for the “Fightin’ Fifth” approaches its homestretch.

Six “Republican” candidates are vying to replace Mick Mulvaney – who vacated this seat two months ago to become director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  Mulvaney won the fifth district in 2010 – defeated former U.S. House budget chairman John Spratt in the Tea Party wave election.

Frontrunner Tommy Pope – the speaker pro tempore of the S.C. House of Representatives – reported raising $196,000 (to which he added a $30,000 loan).  Pope spent roughly $83,000 – leaving him with approximately $140,000 to spend.

Former S.C. Rep. Ralph Norman – who has been battling ferociously with Pope in the northern part of this predominately GOP district – reported raising roughly $285,000 against $185,000 in expenditures.  Norman added a $305,000 loan, though, leaving him with more than $400,000 on hand.

Camden, S.C. businessman and S.C. State Guard leader Tom Mullikin reported raising $235,000 – which included a $144,000 loan.  His campaign spent $179,000 – leaving him with $59,000 on hand.  However, Mullikin reportedly loaned his candidacy another $80,000 after the most recent filing period closed, leaving him with $139,000 to spend.

The most disappointing filing?  That of former SCGOP chairman Chad Connelly.  The social conservative stalwart raised roughly $190,000 – but spent $177,000.  His campaign has just over $12,000 to spend as this race hits its critical stretch.

Social conservative activist Sheri Few reported raising just over $78,000 with nearly $38,000 on hand.  Totals for Indian Land, S.C. attorney Kris Wampler were not immediately available.

If no GOP candidate draws a majority of voters on May 2, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election on May 16.  The winner of that head-to-head matchup will be the GOP nominee for the June 20 special election.

Three democrats are vying for their party’s nomination and several third-party candidates have launched bids as well, but the GOP nominee will be difficult to beat in this recently redrawn district – which was won overwhelmingly by Mulvaney last fall against a well-funded Democratic candidate.

Speaking of well-funded Democratic candidates, Sumter, S.C. tax attorney Archie Parnell had a big fundraising haul – raising an estimated $247,000.  However we suspect his support will dry up when liberal donors  learn he initially inquired about running for this seat as a Republican.

Stay tuned for that story in the next few days …

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