Former Arkansas governor and potential 2012 presidential contender Mike Huckabee (R) is trying to stir up some fundraising enthusiasm for South Carolina state Rep. Rex Rice (R), who is running in a crowded open-seat contest that is noteworthy for its dearth of campaign donations.In a fundraising letter released by Rice’s camp Thursday, Huckabee, who endorsed the state lawmaker in June, asked Rice supporters to consider giving “large and small— donations and perhaps consider matching the $1,000 that the former governor gave to Rice through his political action committee earlier this year.“As you well know, a successful campaign for Congress is extremely expensive,— Huckabee wrote in his appeal. “So I hope you will be as generous in your support for Rex as you have been for me.—South Carolina is one of the early presidential primary states, and Huckabee’s assistance in helping Rice raise funds now could be returned should Huckabee decide to run for president again in 2012.Seven Republican candidates have already filed in the race to replace Rep. Gresham Barrett (R), who is running for governor, but none of them had shown any particular strength on the fundraising front through the third quarter.Rice had raised $112,000 for his campaign by Sept. 30, but at that point he had just less than $34,000 in the bank. State Sen. Shane Massey (R) reported just $39,000 in the bank on Sept. 30, but that was enough to lead the field. No other Republican candidate has raised more than $78,000 since filing, and three of the GOP candidates reported less than $15,000 in cash on hand at the end of the third quarter.Some Republican operatives have speculated that those low early fundraising totals may make the race more inviting for an as-yet-undeclared candidate who can pour personal resources into the race.Still, Rice is known as a candidate with deep pockets and the ability to self-fund if need be.The western 3rd district is a Republican stronghold where the GOP primary will decide who will replace Barrett. But the crowded contest probably won’t be decided until a June 22 runoff.Other Republicans vying for the nomination include state Rep. Jeff Duncan, businessman Richard Cash, physician Mike Vasovski, attorney and former Congressional aide James Galyean and attorney Neal Collins.