- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - Democrat Rick Weiland outraised Republican Mike Rounds in the first two weeks of October by more than $60,000, according to campaign finance reports released Friday for the final pre-election disclosure period of South Dakota’s tight U.S. Senate race.

Weiland’s report showed the Democrat raised about $330,000 between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, compared to Rounds’ roughly $269,000 haul. Rounds had significantly outraised Weiland since the race began, and the former South Dakota governor still holds an overall advantage - about $667,000 vs. Weiland’s $334,000.

Weiland’s campaign sought to use the fundraising bump as a sign of momentum in a race that hadn’t been considered competitive until recently, especially after the campaign arms of both parties have invested $1 million each into TV advertising in the race.

The two national parties have disputed how close the campaign is; there’s been little public polling and Republicans have maintained that Rounds has clung to a comfortable lead. Meanwhile, Democrats say the race has tightened and that Rounds’ support eroded amid continuous coverage of the EB-5 visa program, for which the Republican has faced allegations that the program was mismanaged and ineffective.

Weiland adviser Steve Jarding said the fundraising is evidence of shifting tides.

“People are taking another look at the race,” Jarding said. “Mike’s in trouble. That’s no secret. He’s been embroiled in a scandal that’s getting bigger every day.”

Republicans see South Dakota as a must-have in their push to net six seats and take control of the U.S. Senate. South Dakota, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Lyndon Johnson, is considered one of their best targets.

Rounds’ camp said in a statement that Weiland’s policies don’t fit in South Dakota.

“An extra $60,000 can’t hide Rick Weiland’s support of President Obama’s failed policies,” Rounds’ campaign manager Rob Skjonsberg said in a statement. “We’ll dedicate every dime to make sure South Dakotans understand the consequences of this race.”

Meanwhile, independent candidate Larry Pressler represents another wrinkle in the race. The former three-term South Dakota senator only raised roughly $54,000 during the latest disclosure period and has just $169,000, but he’s running an outsized campaign with those limited resources.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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