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Rex faces cash crunch in gubernatorial race

South Carolina Education Superintendent Jim Rex is facing some tough math in his bid for governor in the Democratic primary in June.

A review of candidate spending in the race to replace term-limited Gov. Mark Sanford shows Rex is spending money faster than any Democratic or Republican party candidate, and he's well behind the money leader in his primary.

Rex reported Thursday he finished the first quarter with $113,000 on hand after raising $121,000 between January and March. Rex also borrowed $42,000 and put $21,000 of his own money into the race.

The $113,000 would pay for less than one week's worth of ads on statewide television.

Is it enough to wage a serious campaign? "Absolutely," said Zeke Stokes, Rex's campaign manager.

"We are already waging a serious campaign," Stokes said. "This not a campaign that is going to be won by spending the most money on television. It's going to be won by going out and organizing at the grass-roots level. That's what we've been doing since September and that's what we will continue to do."

Rex has long expected to spend $500,000 to win the nomination, Stokes said.

Even without spending on ads, Rex has burned through cash at a rapid pace since entering the race last year. Including his personal funds, loans, transfers from his existing campaign account and donations, Rex has raised $386,137. His spending was at twice the pace of state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden, who leads the three-way Democratic candidate money race.

Sheheen raised $244,000 and had $800,000 on hand for the primary. State Sen. Robert Ford of Charleston raised nearly $32,000 in the quarter and has nearly $53,000 on hand. Ford has borrowed $25,000 for the race.

In the Republican contest, U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett has spent more than the rest of his three competitors. He's spent 37 percent of the $2.5 million he's raised or transferred since entering the race. State Rep. Nikki Haley, who has raised or transferred $764,455 for the primary, has spent 31 percent of that on the contest.