'You lie' House race is among best financed in the nation

WASHINGTON — Rep. Joe Wilson and challenger Rob Miller raised more than $626,000 combined in the last quarter of 2009, sharply down from their third-quarter total but still more than most House contests in the country.

Wilson, a Springdale, S.C., Republican, raised $401,954 in the year's final three months, hiking his 2009 total to $3.42 million – most of it raised in the dizzying days after his Sept. 9 "You lie!" yell at President Barack Obama catapulted him to national fame.

Miller, a Beaufort, S.C., Democrat, raised $224,276 in the last quarter of 2009, bringing his total for the year to just over $2 million, the bulk of it also arriving the weeks following Wilson's outburst.

"I'm very pleased with the support we've received," Miller told McClatchy Newspapers on Tuesday. "We've spent a lot of time building a campaign in South Carolina."

Dustin Olson, Wilson's campaign manager, said more than half of his donations in the final quarter were less than $200 apiece.

"It;s pretty amazing that Joe Wilson's support is coming from everyday folks who obviously are not happy with what's going on in Washington," Olson said.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee last month named Miller's challenge against Wilson one of the 17 top races in the 2010 elections, ensuring that it will continue to draw national attention.

In the 22 days between Wilson's shout-out as Obama addressed a joint session of Congress and the Sept. 30 end of the third quarter, Wilson raised an astounding $2.65 million; his donations for the quarter had totaled $44,925 before his yell.

Miller raised $1.69 million in the last 22 days of the third quarter, compared with $9,162 from July 1 through Sept. 8.

Wilson ended 2009 with $2.34 million in cash, but he had $102,359 in debts. Miller finished the year with $1.68 million in his campaign coffers, and he owed no money.

The two men spent as much or more than they raised in the year's last quarter, with Wilson spending $612,043 on his campaign and Miller dispensing $213,156.