Politics & Government

Lindsey Graham gets second Democratic challenger in Senate race

The 2020 presidential race is already pretty crowded. Now South Carolina’s U.S. Senate race next year is heating up, too.

Gloria Bromell Tinubu, a former Democratic candidate for Congress and lieutenant governor, will enter the race against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, on Tuesday. The Georgetown resident will formally kick off her campaign at a State House press conference on Wednesday.

She told The State she was inspired to run during a discussion with an African American history class at the College of Charleston.

“Much of it centered around work and race and how the people who contribute to the wealth are not able to benefit from the wealth they create,” Bromell Tinubu said. “That has an impact on college students who are working two jobs to afford school and be in debt by the time they finish.”

Bromell Tinubu’s entry into the race could set up a fight in the Democratic primary. Former S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison has also formed a committee exploring a possible challenge to Graham. He is expected to announce his candidacy soon.

Bromell Tinubu told The State her campaign will focus on rural areas that she says have been left behind in today’s economy.

“Most who live in rural counties have not benefited from economic growth,” she said. “The economy is not the person who goes to work every day and earns barely enough to keep a roof over their head.”

A former member of the Georgia state House of Representatives and a former economics professor at Coastal Carolina University, Bromell Tinubu previously ran for Congress in South Carolina’s 7th District. She was the Democratic nominee in 2012, the first election after the Grand Strand-centered district was created when South Carolina earned a seventh congressional seat due to population growth. She lost that race and another in 2014 to U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-Myrtle Beach.

Last year, she was named the lieutenant governor running mate for Democrat Phil Noble in the Democratic primary for governor. Noble lost that race to then-state Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, and his running mate, state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, D-Lancaster.

After working for a year as the economic development director of the city of Georgetown, Bromell Tinubu has started a company offering training for entrepreneurs in South Carolina and Georgia.

Earlier this year, she was announced as the state director for the presidential campaign of Marianne Williamson, an author and activist who has been called Oprah’s spiritual adviser. Bromell Tinubu told The State she is no longer working with Williamson’s presidential campaign.

Harris adds manager of Upstate Senate race to 2020 team

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate Kamala Harris has added a new member to her campaign team in South Carolina: the manager of an unsuccessful state Senate campaign in the Upstate earlier this year.

Elias “Eli” Valentin will be Harris’ S.C. political director, the campaign announced this week. Valentin previously managed the Senate campaign of Democrat Tina Belge in a Greenville special election in March.

Belge lost to Republican Dwight Loftis but managed to win 44 percent of the vote in a race where Harris and four other presidential contenders endorsed her. Harris’ S.C. staffers even helped Belge canvass the district.

Valentin also previously served as data director for the Greenville County Democratic Party and co-chair for the state party’s Hispanic Caucus.

Endorsements

Harris this week was endorsed by former S.C. state Rep. I.S. Leevy Johnson.

Johnson is well known in Columbia as a pioneer for African-Americans in South Carolina.

He was the only black student at the University of South Carolina’s law school when he graduated in 1968, and he later became one of the first African American lawmakers elected to the S.C. Legislature since Reconstruction. In 1985, he was named the first black president of the S.C. Bar Association.

Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, has scooped up the endorsement of seven state lawmakers. Sanders last week announced the endorsements of state Reps. Terry Alexander, D-Florence; Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg; Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston; Cezar McKnight, D-Williamsburg; Krystle Simmons, D-Berkeley; Ivory Thigpen, D-Richland; and Shedron Williams, D-Hamption. Sanders also received the endorsement of former S.C. AFL-CIO president Donna DeWitt.

All seven legislators are African-American, a demographic Sanders has struggled to reach in the past.

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.
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