Backed by business, Republican S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster outraised and outspent his Democratic rival nearly 2 to 1 to win his first full term, according to newly filed campaign disclosure reports.
With more than $20 million raised and spent, the June primaries and November general election for governor were the most expensive statewide race in S.C. history.
McMaster of Columbia and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette of Travelers Rest were sworn in to office Wednesday after defeating former state Rep. Smith, D-Columbia, and his running mate, state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster, in the Nov. 6 general election.
McMaster raised more than $626,000 in the last quarter of 2018 and spent nearly $2.6 million in the same period. He also made a $100,000 personal loan to his campaign about a week before the election.
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Campaign spokeswoman Caroline Anderegg said the loan was needed to help with cash flow as pledges arrived. McMaster’s campaign repaid the loan on Nov. 19, according to campaign filings released Thursday.
Overall, McMaster raised more than $8 million in the race for governor, about $400,000 shy of the state record set by then-Gov. Nikki Haley in her 2014 re-election.
Smith and Norrell raised more than $317,000 in the last quarter of 2018 and more than $3.1 million overall in their bid to wrest back the governor’s office from Republicans for the first time in two decades.
Other Democratic and GOP candidates in the June primaries spent millions more.
Much of Smith’s contributions came from small-dollar donors, including a $500 contribution from Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Allison. “All in the Family” actor and Hollywood director Rob Reiner gave Smith $2,000, and producer Norman Lear and his wife, Lyn, gave the Democrat $1,000.
Smith’s average contribution was roughly $159 from nearly 2,000 donors for the period from Oct. 17 to Jan. 10.
That compares to an average contribution of more than $1,200 during the quarter from more than 500 donors to McMaster, who received more help from businesses during the campaign, including from auto, utility, manufacturing, health care and pharmaceutical companies and groups.
The contributions to both campaigns came overwhelmingly from inside South Carolina. However, Democrat Smith raised a greater percentage of his campaign war chest within the state. Of the money Smith raised in the last quarter, about 85 percent came from S.C. individuals and companies.
“Our campaign was powered by the people of South Carolina, from start to finish,” Smith said in a statement. “We remain humbled by the outpouring of support for our positive vision for our state.
“The outcome wasn’t what we’d hoped for, but there is no doubt that there was and is wide support for the ideas we ran on. Thousands of South Carolinians stepped up and put their money where their hopes were.”
In the last quarter, Smith’s campaign spent more than $661,000, for a total of more than $1.8 million in the general election period.
Smith won the June 12 Democratic primary for governor in a three-way race, while McMaster was pulled into a runoff following a bitter five-way GOP primary.
Greenville businessman John Warren pumped more than $3.3 million into his largely self-financed effort to win the GOP nomination. Overall, Warren — a Marine veteran who founded a real estate lending firm — raised $4.1 million from donors and his own bank account for his unsuccessful effort to unseat McMaster, according to campaign filings.
Overall, more than $21.5 million was raised during the 2018 election cycle, including the June primaries, surpassing the previous record set in 2010.
The candidates for governor raised more than $17 million for the 2010 election cycle, when then-state Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, staged an upset victory.