2020 Democrat Kamala Harris to launch all female coalition in SC

In an effort to revive what put Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign on the map in the Palmetto State, the California Democrat’s state campaign next week will launch a “Women for Kamala” coalition of 100 women ahead of her 10th trip back to South Carolina.

Harris will return to South Carolina on Sept. 21 with a stop in Charleston, where she will speak to the local NAACP chapter.

The 100 women — a coalition of lawmakers, businesswoman, health care workers and teachers, including more than two-dozen Midlands area women — plan to knock on doors, make phone calls and organize events around Harris’ policies in their communities.

The campaign kicks off Tuesday in Greenville.

Harris’ proposals have largely zeroed in on women-focused issues, including proposals to squash abortion bans on the state level, promote equal pay for women and address the nationwide rape kit backlog during her first term if she is elected president.

More than a quarter of Harris’ coalition is made up of current and former teachers, one of her earliest focuses in the state after she declared a presidential run. In April, Harris supporter and state Rep. JA Moore, D-Berkeley, turned her proposal into a bill, calling for teachers to see a salary increase of 19% within four years. South Carolina teachers rallied at the State House in May, in part, to call for more pay.

South Carolina is a key battleground state for 2020 Democrats as they try to win over black voters, particularly black women, who make up a core of the Democratic Party’s powerful black voting bloc.

In January, Harris attended and spoke at the Gamma Nu Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Pink Ice Gala in Columbia. Harris is a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, which has helped to boost her get-out-the-vote campaign in South Carolina.

The all-female “Women for Kamala” campaign could help boost Harris’ candidacy in the state — roughly five months ahead of the Feb. 29, 2020, primary.

Despite an early and aggressive campaign entrance into South Carolina, Harris has struggled in the polls. She will miss what’s being billed as a key Democratic function Monday — the Galivants Ferry Stump — in the Pee Dee due to a scheduling conflict, her campaign said. Though Harris has campaigned in the region before, mostly recently in July, which helped her gain endorsements.

“This is a state where she really should do well,” said College of Charleston political scientist Gibbs Knotts who, with colleague Jordan Ragusa, has written a book about the South Carolina primary.

Knotts added the coalition could help differentiate Harris in a race with 20 Democratic candidates still trying to compete.

“If we can learn anything from 2008, if she can do stronger than expected in Iowa, exceeding expectations, that could set her up nicely for South Carolina.”

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Maayan Schechter (My-yahn Schek-ter) covers the S.C. State House and politics for The State. She grew up in Atlanta, Ga. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has previously worked at the Aiken Standard and the Greenville News.