Though the 2018 race for an open U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee was among the most closely watched and expensive in the country, this year’s redux is proving comparatively tame, especially considering record fundraising hauls by Senate candidates across the country.
Marquita Bradshaw, who won the August Democratic primary despite spending less than $23,000, far surpassed her earlier efforts as she reported raising $893,000 between July 18 and Sept. 30 — almost all of that coming after the August victory.
“Our campaign isn’t funded by millionaires and billionaires, but by hardworking Tennesseans,” campaign manager Ken Taylor said in a release. “So, our total raised may still be just a fraction of what our opponent has already spent, but a single mom knows how to make a dollar stretch in a way a rich man simply doesn’t.”
Her opponent on Nov. 3, Republican Bill Hagerty, who has been well funded throughout, reported raising $1.75 million during the same period. The Tennessee Journal reported that $1.25 million of that came after his primary victory. Hagerty, who has loaned his campaign millions of dollars since launching his effort with the support of President Trump last year, reported nearly $2 million on hand for the final stretch of the election, compared to Bradshaw’s $633,000.
“Team Hagerty’s momentum continues to grow as we near Election Day,” Hagerty said in a release. “Chrissy and I remain humbled and forever grateful for the outpouring support.”
Meanwhile, the two nominees’ best-funded competitors in their respective primaries spent the third quarter in part winding down their campaign operations.
Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi, who finished second to Hagerty in the Republican primary, reported raising $673,000 between July 18 and Sept. 30, largely before the primary, though he refunded $348,000 of that money to donors following the primary loss. He reported having less than $9,000 on hand at the end of September in addition to nearly $2.5 million in outstanding debts and obligations, much of that in the form of personal loans Sethi made to his campaign.
Nashville attorney James Mackler finished third in the Democratic primary, despite raising significantly more than the top two finishers and securing the support of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. He spent the weeks after the primary loss, like Sethi, refunding some $283,000 in contributions. But unlike Sethi, he also started writing checks to Democratic candidates across the country, including Bradshaw. The list of candidates he contributed to includes fellow Senate candidates Mike Espy, Cal Cunningham, Doug Jones, Ben Ray Luján, Sara Gideon, Mark Kelly, Jaime Harrison, John Hickenlooper, Jon Ossoff, Amy McGrath, Raphael Warnock, Barbara Bollier, Theresa Greenfield, MJ Hegar, Al Gross, Adrian Perkins, Steve Bullock and Paulette Jordan. Mackler also wrote checks to a number of U.S. House candidates across the country, as well as Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. He reported $60,000 on hand and no outstanding debts.