Republican Ralph Norman has raised $1.3 million for the 5th District congressional race, according to federal filings on Thursday.
That includes $495,000 in loans that the Rock Hill developer has taken out for his campaign.
Democratic candidate Archie Parnell of Sumter had not reported how much money he had raised by Thursday evening. Candidates had until midnight to report.
Norman’s hefty haul indicates he has a strong chance of winning the 5th District, which has attracted upper income, white voters in recent years, said Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon. “They’re traditional Republican voters.”
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Parnell’s campaign recently released a poll showing him 10 percentage points behind Norman in the district, which swung Republican in 2010.
As the two major party candidates race toward the June 20 general election, outside groups also are spending in the special election, to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, who resigned to join the Trump Administration. Still, the spending will pale in comparison to the neck-in-neck 6th District congressional race in Georgia.
‘Traditional’ Republican voters
Norman has spent nearly all of the money that he has raised — $1.2 million for the entire election cycle, including the seven-candidate GOP primary and a runoff against S.C. House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, also a York Republican. Norman beat Pope by a little more than 200 votes.
Still, Norman reported having nearly $100,000 in cash to spend during the last 12 days of the campaign.
"These fundraising numbers prove voters are hungry for the commonsense business solutions Ralph can bring to Congress," Norman’s spokesman R.J. May III said in a statement.
The district is heavily Republican, in part because of affluent voters who have moved into the district in areas like Lake Wylie, Tega Cay, Fort Mill, Winthrop’s Huffmon said.
In addition, when the district was redrawn after the 2010 census, it lost several areas with large numbers of African-American voters, Huffmon said. Black voters traditionally support Democrats in South Carolina.
The Parnell campaign sent out a fundraising email Thursday, saying, “We know the Republicans are preparing to go into attack mode.”
That email said the National Republican Congressional Committee had spent nearly $100,000 on ads supporting Norman.
The committee coordinated an ad with Norman that was released Monday, spokeswoman Maddie Anderson said.
The committee does not to disclose the size of its ad buys, Anderson said, adding, “We will invest as much or as little as we need to keep the seat red.”
Earlier this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said it was spending about $275,000 to support Parnell.
“We’re proud to make this investment in organizing staff, African-American radio, mail, digital, and other targeted voter outreach in the final weeks of this campaign, and support a candidate like Archie Parnell who will stand up and fight for the smart, responsible kind of leadership this community needs,” said Democratic committee spokesman Cole Leiter.
Spending in the 5th District race will not come close to matching sums spent in Georgia’s 6th District race.
That race has become the most expensive U.S. House race in history with more than $30 million spent. The Georgia contest has attracted money because polls indicated a Democrat could win the GOP-held seat, Huffmon said.
AARP cancels forum after Norman declines invite
A 5th District congressional forum, planned for Monday, has been canceled because GOP candidate Ralph Norman will not attend, according to AARP, which planned to host the event at Winthrop University.
Democratic candidate Archie Parnell of Sumter said he would attend. But, instead of a hosting a single-candidate forum, AARP canceled the event.
“AARP South Carolina is disappointed that Mr. Norman declined our invitation to take part in the forum,“ said Teresa Arnold, S.C. director of AARP, a non-partisan organization for retirees.
Four 5th District candidates — Norman, Parnell, Green Party candidate David Kulma and American Party candidate Josh Thornton — will take part in a June 15 forum hosted by SCETV. Libertarian candidate Victor Kocher also has been invited, ETV said.
That forum will air Friday, June 16, at 7:30 p.m.
Norman’s campaign weighed in Thursday afternoon.
“It is unfortunate that the AARP and both campaigns were unable to find a suitable date, but (we) are looking forward to next week’s forum with SCETV,” said Norman spokesman R.J. May III.
Parnell criticized Norman, saying, “The voters deserve having both candidates debate face to face.”