Politics & Government

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris racks up early SC endorsements for 2020 run

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris draws hundreds in return trip to Columbia

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris made her second visit to South Carolina after announcing her run for president Saturday Feb. 16, 2019, in Columbia, SC.
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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris made her second visit to South Carolina after announcing her run for president Saturday Feb. 16, 2019, in Columbia, SC.

Presidential candidate Kamala Harris on Thursday announced five endorsements from well-known S.C. Democrats ahead of the 2020 Democratic primary.

That includes the support of three state lawmakers and a 2018 Democratic candidate for governor, Florence attorney Marguerite Willis.

“I’m excited to endorse Kamala Harris for President,” said Willis, who lost to then-state Rep. James Smith in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. “She is the candidate willing to speak truth to power and stand up for South Carolinians, particularly our teachers and our elderly, who desperately need her help on the federal level.”

Also siding with Harris in a crowded Democratic field is longtime Richland County state Sen. Darrell Jackson; state Rep. JA Moore, who just flipped a Charleston-area State House seat from the GOP last year, defeating the only black Republican in the S.C. Legislature; and state Rep. Pat Henegan, a Marlboro County Democrat, retired educator and fellow member of Harris’s Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.

Rounding out the endorsements is Melissa Watson, chairwoman of the Berkeley County Democratic Party.

Senator Kamala Devi Harris, democratic candidate for 2020 presidential nomination, held a meet and greet with area democrats at Big Mike's Soul Food in Myrtle Beach on Friday.

Jackson said he endorsed Harris in part because of her plan to raise teacher pay.

“In South Carolina, educational inequality is the foundation of economic inequality,” said Jackson, a pastor. “I’m endorsing Kamala Harris because she has proposed a groundbreaking plan that would finally treat teachers with the respect they deserve.”

Henegan also praised Harris’s education plan. “As a former educator I’m proud to stand by Kamala Harris who has proposed the greatest federal investment in teacher pay in our nation’s history,” she said.

The California senator isn’t the first 2020 candidate to pick up endorsements in South Carolina. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., last week announced the support of state Rep. John King, a York Democrat who formerly chaired the S.C. Legislative Black Caucus.

And former Charleston County party chairman Brady Quirk-Garvan resigned his party post in order to endorse Booker.

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Bristow Marchant is currently split between covering Richland County and the 2020 presidential race. He has more than 10 years’ experience covering South Carolina. He won the S.C. Press Association’s 2015 award for Best Series on a toxic Chester County landfill fire, and was part of The State’s award-winning 2016 election coverage.