Governor? Congressman? Those are some of the alternate futures considered for former S.C. Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison.
In a profile of Harrison published by the website OZY, the Orangeburg native and current Democratic National Committee official is mentioned as a potential candidate for a couple of major offices in the Palmetto State.
The website reports Harrison considered running for governor in 2018, after his term as state Democratic chair ended earlier this year. “But,” it added, Harrison “decided campaigning full-time without pay would strain the family finances too much.”
Currently, the Democrats have no announced candidates for the state’s top job in next year’s election. However, two members of the S.C. House – James Smith of Columbia and Rep. Justin Bamberg of Bamberg – have said they are considering a run, and Smith has opened a campaign account.
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Four Republican candidates already are seeking the state’s top job.
Elsewhere in the article, U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, mentions Harrison as a potential successor to his 6th District congressional seat.
“I see him as a potential congressman,” Clyburn told OZY. “I’m 77 years old. My days are numbered.”
The Buzz was a little taken aback by that comment.
No. 1, Buzz thought Clyburn – the Democratic version of Strom Thurmond, in terms of longevity – was immortal.
No. 2, if and when Clyburn ever retires, the Buzz will pay big money to cover the ensuing race. Candidates could come out of the woodwork – Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, S.C. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, state Sen. Darrell Jackson, Rep. Bamberg, state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, CNN commentator and former state Rep. Bakari Sellers and a dozen others – to run for the only seat a S.C. Democrat assuredly can win, given the way the GOP-controlled Legislature has drawn the state’s congressional districts.
Still, Clyburn clearly has a soft spot for Harrison, who once worked in Clyburn’s office as a House floor manager from 2007 to 2008, when Clyburn was majority whip.
After working with the Podesta Group lobbying firm, Harrison returned to South Carolina and, in 2013, became the first African-American to chair the state Democratic Party. He ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee this year but dropped out to endorse former Obama cabinet member Tom Perez, who was elected chairman.
Harrison then joined the DNC as associate chair, focusing on strengthening state parties, part of an ever-elusive “50-state” strategy for Democrats to win in redder parts of the country.
“Before you get to the message, you have to have the vehicle by which the message is delivered,” Harrison told OZY. “And that is state parties.”
This week at the State House
▪ The state Senate’s nuclear review committee will hold a hearing on the failed V.C. Summer expansion at 10 a.m. Monday. The hearing follows Friday’s meeting of the S.C. House committee reviewing the debacle. Taking part in the discussion will be officials from SCE&G, a subsidiary of Cayce-based SCANA, and the state-owned Santee Cooper utility.
▪ The House Ethics Committee meets Monday to hear an appeal of a more than $5,000 fine levied against 2016 Libertarian candidate Travis McCurry for late campaign finance and economic interest statements.
▪ A state Senate panel on school equity – the effort to equalize learning opportunities in poor, rural schools and more affluent schools – will hear public comments and proposals at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.