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Biden Names South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison as His Pick for DNC Chair

January 15, 2021 by Dan McCue
Democratic Senate candidate Jaime Harrison speaks at a watch party in Columbia, S.C., after losing the Senate race.(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)

WILMINGTON, Del. – President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday evening named Jaime Harrison, a former South Carolina Democratic Party chair and 2020 Senate candidate, as his pick for the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.

Harrison, a one time aide and protégé of House Democratic Whip James Clyburn, has been touted as the next Democratic chair since his strong showing — and particularly prolific fundraising ability — in his race against incumbent Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Though he still must be approved by DNC members in an election next week, his backing by both Biden and Clyburn, make his victory almost a certainty. Voting closes on Thursday, Jan. 21 at 12 p.m., the day after Biden’s inauguration.

In 2013, Harrison was elected the first African-American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a position he held until 2017, when he was appointed by DNC Chair Tom Perez as an associate chair of the DNC.

In 2020, during his race against Graham, Harrison built a national grassroots movement and raised $57 million during the final full quarter of the campaign.

Harrison’s haul was the largest single-quarter total by any candidate in U.S. Senate history, far surpassing the previous record set in 2018 when Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke topped $38 million in the third quarter of that year in his unsuccessful Senate bid.

Though he was unable, ultimately, to unseat Graham, Harrison raised over $130 million over the course of his campaign.

Biden also announced Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms as his nominee to be the DNC’s vice chair of civic engagement and voter protection, and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois and Rep. Filemon Vela Jr,. of Texas, as vice chairs.

All are running for terms that will run through 2025.

Jason Rae, who’s a member of the DNC Executive and Rules & Bylaws Committee, was nominated to serve as secretary; Virginia McGregor, who serves as deputy national finance chair of the DNC and national co-chair of the DNC’s Women’s Leadership Forum, was nominated for treasurer, and Chris Korge, the national finance chairman for the DNC since 2019, was nominated again for national finance chair.

“This group of individuals represent the very best of the Democratic Party. Their stories and long histories of activism and work reflects our party’s values and the diversity that make us so strong,” Biden said in a statement.

“As our country faces multiple crises from systemic racism to the COVID-19 pandemic, working families in America need and deserve real leadership,” the President-elect continued.

“We need to elect Democrats across our country and up and down the ballot. To do that is going to take tireless leadership, committed to strengthening Democratic infrastructure across our states. These leaders are battle-tested and ready for this immense task. I know they will get the job done.”

Incoming White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jen O’Malley Dillon also expressed admiration for the slate of offices, calling them all “battle-tested, brilliant leaders” who “reflect the great diversity of the party.”

“These leaders know what we need to do to ensure the party is strong, inclusive, and continues to expand our coalition of support across the states,” Dillon said, adding, “The stakes couldn’t be higher … As our country continues to grapple with dual public health and economic crises, Democratic leadership is needed in all levels of our government. I am more than confident that these officers, with Jaime Harrison at the helm, will lead a party that will do just that.” 

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