A new Democratic political action committee, with ties to SC, hopes to rebuild the party

abeam@thestate.comJanuary 14, 2013 

— A Democratic political action committee organized in South Carolina aims to help rebuild the party throughout the South by donating money to state and local candidates and training people how to run modern campaigns.

South Forward is a federal 501(c) 4, known as a federal independent expenditure political action committee. It can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, as opposed to candidates and state political parties who are limited in how much they can raise.

The committee has several South Carolina connections, but organizers say they will focus their efforts across the South.

The committee has a Columbia address, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission. Its treasurer is Marc Posner, a Columbia accountant and former treasurer for the South Carolina Democratic Party. The committee’s spokesman, Walter Ludwig, is a political consultant who has worked in South Carolina before -- most notably running Vic Rawl’s bid for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate -- ultimately losing to Alvin Greene.

And Don and Carol Fowler, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and the former chairwoman of the S.C. Democratic Party, are hosting a “kickoff brunch” for the committee on Monday in Washington, D.C -- coinciding with President Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Ludwig said the committee has lots of grand plans, including forming separate political action committees for each state. But first, he said they will focus on helping candidates win election to city and county offices.

“I think it’s a good strategy,” Carol Fowler said. “Building a farm team has to start somewhere for Democrats, and this is as good a way as any.”

South Carolina Democrats -- while they do not have a statewide office holder and have minorities in both the state House and Senate -- have had success at the local level. The mayors of the state’s two largest cities -- Columbia and Charleston -- are Democrats. And the Greenville City Council -- located in one of the state’s Republican stronghold -- has a Democratic majority on a nonpartisan council.

“A lot of good people who have a Democratic heart, as it were, maybe pass on running for office in the South because they see it as a very uphill climb,” Ludwig said. “While the state parties work really hard to help them and do help them, I think the more people look around and say, ‘Oh, I’m going to get some help,’ the better they will feel about running.”

State Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian said he did not know about the committee. And Ludwig said their goal is not to replace state parties, but to help them.

“We don’t want to give anyone impression we are coming in with knights on horseback to save the day,” he said. “We hope to be helpful.”

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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