Wilson’s Fundraising Tops $700,000 After Outburst

In the wake of the controversy Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) sparked by shouting “You lie!— during President Barack Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, a Republican source said the Congressman had raised about $700,000 by Friday afternoon.The source attributed the influx to Wilson’s appearances on conservative radio programs hosted by Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt, as well as conservative champion Rush Limbaugh taking up the Congressman’s cause. Wilson’s team also revamped its Web fundraising presence and on Thursday night posted an online video in which the Congressman solicits financial support to help fight the attacks Democrats have launched against him in the wake of the outburst.Wilson’s slightly belated financial windfall comes as his Democratic opponent has raised a record amount in online donations — almost $800,000 — since Wilson’s comments Wednesday night. A new poll released Friday showed that Wilson could face a difficult re-election race next year, although he represents a staunchly conservative district.The survey, done by a Democratic polling firm, found Wilson in a statistical tie with retired Marine and Iraq War veteran Rob Miller (D), who garnered 43 percent to Wilson’s 44 percent. The Congressman beat Miller by 8 points in the 2008 general election.The poll of 747 likely 2nd district voters was in the field Thursday and Friday. It was conducted by North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling, a firm with a stable of Democratic clients, and had a 4-point margin of error. The poll found that 62 percent of voters disapproved of Wilson’s outburst Wednesday night while just 29 percent approved. With Wilson in the headlines, Miller has turned into an overnight fundraising legend. During one two-and-a-half-hour period on Thursday, Miller was raising $1,000 a minute. By Friday afternoon he was approaching the $800,000 mark in money raised since Wednesday night. He raised just over $625,000 during the entire 2008 cycle, and that includes a $220,000 loan he made to himself.Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) released a statement Thursday announcing that she had donated $1,000 from her political action committee to Miller’s campaign, and she called on other Members to do the same.Wilson “crossed a line of protocol and decency that may be acceptable for angry ‘tea baggers’ at a rally, but is completely unacceptable for a Member of Congress in the House Chambers,— McCollum wrote. “I want the voters of South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional district to know they have a civil, respectful, and honorable choice to represent them in Congress — Rob Miller.— The vast majority of Miller’s windfall was raised through the Democratic fundraising Web site ActBlue, which serves as an online clearinghouse for Democratic activism. According to figures compiled by that site, the Democratic candidate raised an average of about $7 every second between the end of Obama’s speech Wednesday night and midnight on Thursday.Adrian Arroyo, deputy communications director for ActBlue, said Miller’s $672,531.23 in 27 hours eclipsed the largest 48-hour haul of any other single candidate ever on ActBlue, including presidential and Senate candidates. “This is the first, or at least largest, political fundraising effort that has gone viral,— Arroyo said.Before Wilson’s outburst launched Miller into fundraising stardom, the largest two-day haul on ActBlue came at the end of the 2008 cycle when Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) suggested that some Members of Congress may have anti-American views and that the media should do an exposé on the matter. Bachmann’s comments on MSNBC’s “Hardball— turned into a windfall for her opponent, former Blaine Mayor Elwyn Tinklenberg (D), who raised about $260,000 through ActBlue in 48 hours after the show aired.Miller could not be reached for comment Friday, but Tinklenberg offered some advice to the South Carolina Democrat on how to best make use of the unexpected fundraising influx.“Ours came in the last few weeks [of the 2008 cycle], and it was really a matter of making the best use of it. ... It really represented a scramble,— Tinklenberg said. Miller “has the other problem of having it happen so early that it could really lose steam before the election occurs.—Tinklenberg said Miller should be prepared for Wilson to get a backlash of support from conservatives. He also said Miller should avoid the temptation of making Wilson’s outburst a focal point of his campaign.“This windfall needs to help support his campaign. It can’t become the campaign,— he said. “This will become so much of the story. ... [Miller] needs to keep going back to the fundamental differences in the race. I think he has to make the case of the differences between him and the incumbent.—

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