Bracey Harris and Geoff Pender Mississippi Clarion Ledger
Published 2:09 p.m. UTC Jul 24, 2018
Appointed Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith out-raised her opponents for November’s special election to replace Thad Cochran by well over $1 million from April 1 through June 30.
Hyde-Smith raised nearly $1.6 million for the period. Democratic former U.S. Rep. Mike Espy raised more than $308,000 and Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel raised $272,000. This includes loans of $111,000 and $55,000, respectively, that Espy and McDaniel loaned their own campaigns. No report was available for a fourth, little known candidate, Democrat Tobey Bartee.
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Millions of out-of-state dollars have so far been pumped into the race through PACs, super PACs and individual donations to candidates. Conservative Republican billionaire mega-donors Robert Mercer and Richard Uihlein and their families have contributed to McDaniel’s campaign this cycle, and previously to a PAC that supports him. Espy has received contributions from Democratic billionaire mega-donors the Soros family and a PAC supporting Hyde-Smith has received a $250,000 donation from New York billionaire and former Napster founder Sean Parker, who has also made donations to Democratic candidates and causes.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent $1.05 million in the race, on ads attacking McDaniel or supporting Hyde-Smith.
The race could play a big role nationally in the partisan battle for control of the Senate.
For Hyde-Smith, raising lots of campaign cash could serve another purpose: landing an endorsement from President Donald Trump. Raising substantial campaign funds is reportedly one of the benchmarks the Trump White House set for Hyde-Smith as prerequisite for a potential endorsement by the president.
McDaniel and Espy could both use more outside, national-level spending to try to keep pace with Hyde-Smith’s well-funded campaign.
More: Cindy Hyde-Smith makes bank; Chris McDaniel signs contract in Mississippi Senate race
The Remember Mississippi super PAC supporting McDaniel had previously raised — and spent — a substantial amount of money, largely from a couple of big out-of-state billionaire donors. But much of this was when McDaniel was running in Mississippi’s other Senate race, against incumbent Republican Roger Wicker. For this quarter, Remember Mississippi raised about $45,000. Of that, $25,000 was from August A. Busch III, great grandson of Anheuser-Busch beer company founder.
In his 2014 challenge of Cochran, Club for Growth, the Madison Project, FreedomWorks and other powerful groups leaped to McDaniel’s aid early and pumped close to $6 million into the primary and runoff, nearly double what his campaign proper raised and spent. But so far, no such groups have endorsed him. That makes his own campaign’s fundraising efforts even more crucial.
Espy is experienced at fundraising and has many business and agriculture contacts in Mississippi. But in-state fundraising has gotten harder and harder for Democrats as the state turns more and more red. The former U.S. agriculture secretary will have to work his national business contacts for serious funding. His finance report this period showed support from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Kamala Harris of California.
More: NJ Sen. Booker stumps for fellow Dem Espy in Mississippi
A Hyde-Smith spokeswoman said her fundraising performance shows “outpouring of support from so many Mississippians and conservatives across America.”
A McDaniel spokesman said McDaniel’s campaign has been funded by “nearly 3,000 conservatives, the majority of which are from Mississippi,” and that average contributions of $90 “demonstrates a strong grassroots base of support.” He also said Hyde-Smith’s campaign is “largely funded by the D.C. Swamp.”
Espy issued a statement: “We are pleased with our early success, especially when considering that this is a special election. We started from zero and one of my opponents has the full weight of the national party behind her. Each day we generate greater enthusiasm as more voters understand that I will always vote for what is best for Mississippi regardless of partisan division.”
- Contributions: $308,236
- Expenditures: $126,760
- Cash on hand: $281,476
- Loans: $100,000
- Contributions: $1,569,048
- Expenditures: $264,232
- Cash on hand: $1,389,799
A spokeswoman for Hyde-Smith said the candidate’s total comes out to $1.65 million once transfers from authorized committees are acco
- Contributions: $272,263
- Expenditures: $171,208
- Cash on hand: $156,054
- Loans: $55,000
No report available
Outside raising/spending from PACs
Remember Mississippi (supports McDaniel)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce (supports Hyde-Smith)
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce $1,050,000M in the Mississippi U.S. Senate Race for the July Quarter
- Breakdown $375,000 for an ad opposing Chris McDaniel, $675,000 in advertisements supporting Cindy Hyde Smith
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