Harrison to run for SC Democratic chairman

02/11/2013 9:42 AM

02/11/2013 11:59 AM

Jaime Harrison, a Washington lobbyist and former executive director of the U.S. House Democratic Caucus, said Monday that he is running to become the next chairman of the S.C. Democratic Party.

If elected at a meeting May 4, Harrison would be the party’s first African-American state chairman. No other candidates have announced plans to run for the seat.

Current S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian said Monday that he will not seek re-election and threw his support behind Harrison, the state party’s first vice chairman for the past two years.

“He is the right man at the right time,” Harpootlian said.

Harpootlian said he has had enough after spending seven years leading the state Democratic party during two stints: “If you commit a murder, you don’t spend that much time in jail.”

Harrison believes he can use his experience in helping the Democrats win back Congress to lead the party to gain statewide and U.S. Senate seats in 2014, including the Governor’s mansion.

“I think I can take the party to the next level,” he said. “This is a watershed year for Democrats.”

Harrison, 37, works for the Podesta Group where he represents the University of South Carolina and S.C. Ports Authority as well as Boeing and Michelin, which have major operations in South Carolina. He specializes in transportation issues.

He worked for U.S. Rep. James Clyburn for six years, including as his floor director, from 2002-08 before joining the lobbying firm. The Orangeburg native graduated from Yale University and Georgetown University law school.

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