South Carolina state representative Nancy Mace had a stellar fundraising quarter in her battle to reclaim the state’s first congressional district for Republicans – raking in an impressive $2.5 million between July and September, according to campaign finance reports.
That total accounted for more than half of the $4.4 million Mace has raised during the entire campaign – a quarterly bonanza that easily eclipsed the $1.8 million raised over the same period by her Democratic opponent, Joe Cunningham.
“Deeply humbled by all of the support we are receiving in the final stretch of the race,” Mace tweeted.
According to reporter Caitlin Byrd of The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper, Mace’s haul made her one of only nine GOP challengers in the country to “out-raise an endangered House Democrat in the final stretch of the 2020 election.”
Wait … endangered? Isn’t Cunningham – who brands himself as a “centrist” – cruising in this so-called swing district?
That is certainly what a recent Democratic poll would have you believe …
Mace backers tell us the race is much closer, however … citing the steady influx of contributions as just one example of momentum building in support of her candidacy.
“Mace momentum is REAL,” Mace tweeted in response to the numbers.
In addition to out-raising Cunningham in the third quarter, Mace’s latest campaign finance report revealed a sizable cash advantage for her in the final weeks of the race. Mace reported having $1.7 million cash-on-hand compared to $1.2 million for Cunningham.
Mace supporters also told us her momentum extended into October – and that the challenger will be able to outspend the incumbent on television, radio and digital platforms over the remaining two-and-a-half weeks of the election.
Obviously, this late push could help Mace narrow the gap in this Lowcountry coastal district – which was captured by Democrats in a shocking upset two years ago after it went for U.S. president Donald Trump by a whopping 13 percent margin in 2016.
In 2018, Cunningham defeated former state representative Katie Arrington by a wafer-thin 1.4 percent margin. One big contributing factor to his upset? The refusal of the outgoing GOP lawmaker – former governor Mark Sanford – to support Arrington’s candidacy after she defeated him in the June 2018 primary.
Sanford has similarly withheld his endorsement of Mace, although she did receive the backing of his successor – former governor and ex-U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley. As we have frequently noted, Mace draws from a broad base of Republican support – including Trump backers and more libertarian-leaning GOP voters who support candidates like former U.S. congressman Ron Paul.
For his part, Cunningham has drawn some unexpected GOP and conservative support since taking office, and efforts by national and state Republicans to make the race about Democratic politicians in Washington, D.C. have failed miserably.
In early September, Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics shifted this race from “toss-up” to “leans Democratic.” Toward the end of September, the Cook Political Report followed suit and moved the race from “toss-up” to “lean Democratic” as well.
Does that mean the race is over? No … not necessarily.
As we have previously noted, Cunningham is exceedingly vulnerable – assuming Republicans can figure out where (and how) to hit him.
“There is a compelling case to be made that Cunningham is not who he says he is,” we noted in a recent piece.
In fact, the guy is literally not who he says he is.
Obviously, the Mace and Cunningham campaigns are not the only entities spending money in the first district. Both have benefitted from millions of dollars in spending from national partisan and special interest organizations – advertising blitzes which have been bombarding Lowcountry airwaves for months.
Mace has been attacked (disingenuously we might add) on the issue of offshore drilling by the liberal 314 Action group, while Cunningham has been hit for voting with liberal U.S. House speaker Nancy Pelosi nearly ninety percent of the time.
Cunningham has also personally attacked Mace over her former association with this news outlet, referring to FITSNews as a “bikini website” (a nod to our risqué origins).
Mace was a part-owner of FITSNews for several years, however she sold her ownership stake in the company in 2013 prior to launching an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate against Lindsey Graham.
Mace has had no connection to the website since – although she and our founding editor Will Folks have remained friends.
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