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Senate Democrats’ fundraising success puts GOP on defensive

WASHINGTON: Buoyed by massive fundraising success, Democratic Senate candidates are mounting a push in Republican states that few would have thought possible just a few months ago, placing continued GOP control
the chamber at risk.

In South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey Graham‘s challenger, Democrat Jaime Harrison, shattered fundraising records when he announced on Sunday a USD 57 million haul for
the quarter that ended in September.

MJ Hegar in Texas reported raising over USD 13 million during
the same period for her race against Republican Sen. John Cornyn.

In deep-red Kentucky,
Amy McGrath has posted strong fundraising numbers against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In Mississippi, Mike Espy reported raising USD 4 million in his rematch against Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith.

The windfall speaks to
the energy coursing through a restive Democratic base that hopes not only to oust President Donald Trump, but also to flip control
the Senate, where Republicans have a 53-47 majority. That will be key for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to enact his agenda, if he wins.

the flood
of money flowing to high-profile Senate candidates is so large, it’s not at all clear
the recipients will have time to spend it.

That may inadvertently short low-profile states and candidates who may not engender
the same fervor from party activists and could use an infusion
of resources.

And since much
of it is coming from donors outside their states, it’s an imperfect measure
the candidates’ chances — especially in red states.

“For Jaime Harrison and
Amy McGrath, money can buy you a lot
of TV advertising,” said Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist and McConnell adviser.

“But they are never going to have enough money to buy another 2 million liberal voters in South Carolina and Kentucky.”

The cautionary tale for these candidates is Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who in 2018 raised a record-breaking USD 80 million for his losing Senate campaign against Republican incumbent Ted Cruz, who was widely reviled by liberal activists and donors.

O’Rourke was criticized for being too stingy with his cash, only reluctantly aiding other Democrats, though he eventually donated large amounts to
the Texas Democratic Party.

That’s a position Harrison could soon find himself in. Public polling shows he’s locked in a tight race against Graham, a staunch defender
of Trump’s who is leading Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee
Barrett this week.

Barrett is
the conservative appellate court
judge Trump picked to replace liberal justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

the days after Ginsburg’s death last month, over USD 100 million flooded in through ActBlue, Democrats’ fundraising platform, with Harrison garnering a large chunk.

Harrison’s campaign manager, Zack Carroll, said
the plan is to use “every dollar donated” for ads, digital organizing and communication.

But with TV largely saturated, there are limited avenues for him to productively spend such a massive sum
of money with just three weeks left before
the election.

“I don’t think Jaime Harrison can spend USD 57 million in
the next couple weeks. But that’s not his fault,” said Jefrey Pollock, a Democratic pollster who is working on eight Senate races.

Pollock said much
the money will go to advertising, get out
the vote and other expenses, but “at some point they’ll start sending that money to other places or spending down ballot.”

The same could apply for McGrath, who is fighting an uphill battle against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.

She has yet to release her most recent fundraising figures, which must be made public by Thursday, but has pulled in USD 47 million this cycle as
of July 1.

Democrats dismiss such concerns and say there’s no such thing as too much money.

Plus, they argue,
the wild success some have enjoyed has warped perceptions about what is needed.

of these challengers are doing well, and it’s hard to find a spot where Democrats are struggling at this point,” said Stewart Boss, a spokesperson for
the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

The money to Democrats has heightened a sense
of dread among Republicans.

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