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Average Amount Raised by Senate Winners More than Doubles in Four Years

The following report was released by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan, nonprofit program dedicated to accurate, comprehensive and unbiased documentation and research on campaign finance at the state level. The Institute is an outgrowth of collaboration between the Western States Center, the Northeast Citizen Action Resource Center, and Democracy South.

FOR RELEASE: June 11, 2001
CONTACT: Sue O'Connell, 406-449-2480

HELENA, Mont. - Candidates seeking a seat in the South Carolina Legislature last year raised $12 million, according to campaign finance information compiled by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

A comparison by the Institute shows that the average amount raised by winning Senate candidates increased by 118 percent since senators were last elected in 1996, while the average amount raised by winning House candidates increased by 63 percent since 1998.

The Institute, based in Helena, Mont., is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that compiles and analyzes campaign contribution information for state-level races in all 50 states. It obtained its South Carolina information with the assistance of the South Carolina Progressive Network. The Institute's preliminary contribution records for South Carolina's 2000 races are available online and currently can be searched by candidate and by contributor.

The Institute will further analyze the data in the coming months to determine the economic interests of contributors and will post that information in a searchable format on its Web site when available.

Last year in South Carolina, 311 legislative candidates raised $12 million for the 2000 elections.

Senate candidates raised $6.56 million, compared with a total of about $3.4 million in 1996. Winning Senate candidates raised an average of $109,465, more than doubling the average amount - $50,148 - raised by winning candidates in 1996 when Senate seats were last up for election. Losing candidates last year raised just 40 percent of the amount raised by the winners, with an average of $43,846. Losing primary election candidates raised, on average, $22,889.

The 221 candidates who raised money to run for the 124 available House seats raised $5.4 million, up from 1998 when 184 candidates raised almost $3.4 million. Winning House candidates raised an average of $33,223, a 63 percent increase from the average $20,356 raised by the 1998 winners. House candidates who lost their races last year raised an average of $18,349, or 55 percent of the amount raised by the winners. Candidates who lost in the primary raised an average of $8,885.

An initial review of the campaign finance information also showed:

· The top two fundraisers in both the Senate and the House were incumbents who won their re-election bids: Democratic Sen. John C. Land III at $549,848, Senate Republican Leader Hugh Leatherman at $465,401, Republican House Speaker David Wilkins, at $188,714, and Republican Rep. Robert W. Harrell, Jr., at $178,255.

· The top five contributors were Leatherman, who gave $297,000 to his own campaign and a total of $298,500; the House Republican Caucus, $196,917; Larry Grooms, a Republican incumbent senator who gave $140,802 to his own campaign and $3,000 to three other candidates; Michael Thompson, a Republican challenger who gave $140,500 to his successful campaign for House District 9; and the South Carolina Senate Republican Caucus, $112,160.

· Senate incumbents raised an average of $107,854, while their challengers raised just 36 percent of that - $39,350. House incumbents raised an average of $31,509, while their general election opponents raised 59 percent of that amount, or $18,349.

· Eighty-six percent of the 170 winners, or 146, were incumbents, while 95 percent, or 162, raised the most money in their races. And 97 percent - or 165 winners - were either incumbents or raised the most money, or both.

The Institute will be doing further analysis of all major contributors to South Carolina candidates in the 2000 election cycle in order to identify their occupations and employers. When that analysis is complete, the information may be searched by candidate, contributor, and the types of economic and political interests contributing to state-level campaigns. Currently, the Institute's Web site,, contains searchable contribution data identifying the economic interests of contributors in South Carolina's 1998 state Senate and statewide races.

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