Who is Jamie Harrison? 5 things to know about South Carolina’s Senate candidate

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Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is poised for a tight race Tuesday night. He has enjoyed a slight lead in the runup to the election for a seat that Republicans have held for nearly two decades. 

Here are 5 things to know about Harrison. 

1. He shattered multiple fundraising records during this Senate race

Harrison announced a record-breaking fundraising haul of $57 million on October 11 for the third quarter of the election cycle. The previous quarterly record — $38 million — was held by former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke in his losing 2018 Senate bid against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.   

Harrison has also now both raised and spent more than $100 million overall, by far the most of any Senate candidate in American history. He raked in $107.6 million in donations, but his campaign spent almost as much, doling out $104.1 million. The previous spending record was set in 2018 by Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., with $85 million, though much of that total was self-funded.

2. He was elected the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party in 2013. 

Harrison held the chairmanship until 2017. He is also an associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former lobbyist for the now-defunct Podesta Group, whose clients included big coal, tobacco companies and big banks. 

He has also received tens of thousands in donations from lobbyists.

Harrison, who is married with two children, has frequently spoken on the campaign trail of his humble beginnings as the son of a single teenage mother. 

During his first debate against Graham, Harrison said he and his wife were still paying off their student loans.

Graham snapped back that, given what he’s seen of Harrison’s income from released tax returns, “You’re a multimillionaire, and you can’t pay off your student loans?”

3. He was formerly an aide to South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn

Harrison graduated from Yale University and later attended Georgetown Law School. He then worked for Clyburn before moving on to posts at the Port of Charleston and the University of South Carolina. 

Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, praised Harrison in an interview with Politico last month saying: “Not a single soul alive believed when he announced for the Senate that he would be sitting here 30 days out, 48-48,” as polls showed the two candidates in a deadlock for the state’s Senate seat. 

4. He has promised to work across the aisle with Republicans if elected. 

Harrison has touted his friendship with former South Carolina GOP Chairman Matt Moore and their ability to work together on issues such as education reform and more as evidence of the bipartisan spirit he’ll bring to Congress if he is elected. 

“It’s the Matt and Jaime traveling roadshow,” Moore once joked of his camaraderie with Harrison despite opposing political views. 

5. The Harrison-Graham showdown is on pace to be one of the most expensive in the state’s history. 

Both Harrison and Graham are on track to spend as much as $200 million combined by the time the winner is called. That figure is nearly quadruple the amount spent by all candidates in the 2016 presidential primaries. 

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The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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