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#SC2018: Homestretch Cash

“C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dollar dollar bill y’all …”

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For those of you unhip to the Wall Street wizardry of Wu Tang Financial, the firm’s motto is comprised of some words (and letters) to live by.

Cash Rules Everything Around Me.”  Or “C.R.E.A.M.”

Got it?  Good …

And while there are those who would argue (eloquently) that it shouldn’t be that way, let’s be honest … money in politics is the root of all power.  Whether it is a candidate buying airtime on television or an elected official buying favors with your tax dollars, C.R.E.A.M., people.  C.R.E.A.M.

In the 2018 South Carolina “Republican” governor’s race, it’s no surprise that the three candidates with the most cash are the three candidates leading in the latest polls.  We are referring, of course, to incumbent governor Henry McMaster, Lowcountry labor attorney Catherine Templeton and Upstate businessman John Warren.

Over the last few days, all of the candidates for governor have released their pre-election financial reports – providing the public with one last look at what they have raised (and from whom), what they have spent (with whom) and how much money they have left as the race enters its most pivotal stretch.

According to documents filed with the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC), Templeton leads the way with a little over $1 million in the bank as of May 22.  To date, Templeton has raised $3.6 million and spent $2.4 million on her insurgent bid.

McMaster ($769,000) and Warren ($740,000) are just behind Templeton in terms of available resources – with the incumbent having dropped $3.6 million on his reelection bid and Warren spending $2.5 million into his race.

As of this writing, Warren has plowed $3 million of his own money into the campaign in addition to the quarter million he has collected in campaign contributions for a total of $3.26 million raised.  McMaster has raised a total of $4.4 million for his reelection.

That is some serious cheddar … although at this point only Warren appears to be getting “bang for his buck.”

McMaster?  He has severely depleted his war chest on a candidacy that is flailing – and looking more unlikely to win the nomination with each passing day.

Meanwhile Templeton appears to be treading water at a time when she needs to put some distance between herself and the hard-charging Warren.

Lieutenant governor Kevin Bryant – in fourth place according to most of the recent GOP polls we’ve seen – has a little over $42,000 to spend on his race after raising $956,000 and spending $914,000.  Former lieutenant governor Yancey McGill has only around $2,000 to spend after raising just under $490,000.

Now … what about the Democrats?

Afghan War veteran and former S.C. House minority leader James Smith has a huge cash lead over his two rivals – Florence, S.C. attorney Marguerite Willis and Charleston, S.C. businessman Phil Noble.

As of May 22, Smith had $456,000 to spend after raising a total of $1.1 million since he became a candidate.  Meanwhile, Willis reported having just under $280,000 on hand after raising $651,000.  That total included nearly $180,000 of her own money and $300,000 in the form of a bank loan.  Noble?  He reported having just under $60,000 on hand after raising roughly $242,000 for his race.

Several points to consider as you digest these numbers …

First, candidates are continuing to raise cash as they campaign … meaning these totals are changing daily.

Also, the candidates and their campaign organizations aren’t the only ones spending big on this race.  Political action committees and other groups are heavily involved, dumping tons of money on television, mail and the internet in an effort to move undecided voters.

Furthermore, we cannot forget there are two independently wealthy candidates in this race who have devoted significant personal resources to their campaigns already (Warren and Willis).  Will they ante up more of their own cash as the primary season approaches its climax?

Finally, there’s the immediate future to consider …

With the “Republican” race all but assured of heading to a head-to-head runoff election following the first round of voting on June 12 (and the Democratic primary completely up in the air), several of these campaigns will have to move swiftly to replenish their war chests later this month.  As we’ve stated often in the run-up to these contests, if no candidate receives a majority of votes on the first ballot of a South Carolina partisan primary election the two top vote-getters advance to a head-to-head runoff election two weeks later.

Most campaigns already have commitments from donors lined up in the event they make the runoff, but the bottom line is we will probably be doing all this again in a few weeks … likely with four candidates.

***

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