MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - How much do fundraising and endorsements matter in a traditionally red state? In recent weeks, celebrities and politicians have come out for the Democratic nominee Marquita Bradshaw for the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee. But her challenger, Republican Bill Hagerty, looks to be immensely out-fundraising her before her primary win.
Millions of people are hearing the name Marquita Bradshaw for the first time. The Memphis native has been endorsed by politicians Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. This past weekend a celebrity-filled event, featuring actors like Amy Schumer, raised $42,000 for the campaign.
“It certainly gives the candidate the celebrity endorses something to put on Twitter, something to get their name out there,” WMC Political Analyst Michael Nelson said.
Nelson said a celebrity endorsement usually doesn’t hurt, but doesn’t necessarily help a campaign. He said a real contest happens when both candidates are raising massive amounts of money.
Going in to August’s primary, Bradshaw had millions of dollars less than her eventual challenger in the general election Republican Bill Hagerty, who has been endorsed by President Trump.
Filings with the Federal Election Commission of campaign contributions up until July 2020 show Bradshaw with less than $23,000 and Hagerty with more than $5 million.
In comparison, Bradshaw’s grassroots campaign won against the Democratic frontrunner James Mackler who had more than $2 million in campaign contributions.
“Right now it looks like the Democrats have basically conceded that Republican nominee Bill Hagerty is a shoo-in for this election, but Marquita Bradshaw surprised us before,” Nelson said. “No one thought she’d win the Democratic Primary and she did. That’s why we have elections.”
The next reporting date for post primary contributions is Thursday, Oct. 15.
We reached out to both Bradshaw and Hagerty’s campaign about post primary contributions.
Hagerty’s team sent this statement:
“Bill is running a strong grassroots campaign, and we are grateful to have the support of Tennesseans all across the state. Tennessee values are conservative values and Bill will work with President Trump and Senator Marsha Blackburn to protect our American way of life.”
A spokesperson for Bradshaw’s campaign released this statement:
“Marquita did what many thought was impossible and won the Democratic nomination with a groundswell of energy from volunteers across the state. Over the last two months, that grassroots energy and excitement has continued to grow and has translated into a greater level of financial support, and we look forward to sharing new fundraising totals ahead of the filing deadline next week. While our donor base is growing, it still consists of hardworking families from across the state and around the country who want a leader in Washington who understands the struggles they face. On November 3, we are going to once again prove that you can’t buy an election when there’s a people-powered campaign running against you.”