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S.C. politics

Democrats to hold S.C. debate

South Carolina will hold one of six sanctioned debates among 2016 Democratic candidates for president, the Democratic National Committee said Tuesday. No dates or locations were announced for the debates, which will start in the fall.

All four early primary and caucus states – including Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada – will hold a debate. South Carolina is scheduled to hold the South’s first presidential Democratic primary on Feb. 27.

Republican presidential candidates are slated to debate on Feb. 13 in South Carolina, a week ahead of the Feb. 20 primary in the Palmetto State. No city has been chosen for the debate airing on CBS, though Republicans are looking at Columbia, Charleston, Greenville and Myrtle Beach.

Meanwhile, the campaign of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton will hold its first grassroots event in Greenville Tuesday with a volunteer phone bank. The campaign will hold nearly a dozen house parties statewide over the next few weeks. The campaign has not announced when Clinton might visit the state for her first trip since announcing her 2016 bid last month.

Cruz hires S.C. staffers

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has named a grassroots leadership team in South Carolina for his 2016 Republican presidential bid.

His campaign named three co-chairmen – state Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg; state Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Spartanburg; and former Dorchester Sheriff Ray Nash, according to a copy of a letter obtained by The State.

Bright ran for the U.S. Senate last year against incumbent Republican Lindsey Graham, losing in the primary. Cruz’s grassroots team also includes another candidate who tried and failed to unseat Graham, Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor.

The letter notes many of Cruz’s grassroots supporter were involved in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s surprise win in the 2012 S.C. GOP presidential primary. Some members also worked with other presidential campaigns, including Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann.

“Our campaign relies on bringing together a broad coalition of Republican voters, many of whom feel abandoned by party leaders in Washington,” Cruz S.C. campaign director LaDonna Ryggs wrote in the letter. “Make no mistake: the attacks are coming. The political elites in Washington are desperately afraid of a candidate that upsets the status quo.”

Pro-Walker group hires S.C. staffers

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s Our American Revival political group has named its first two operatives in South Carolina.

Dan Tripp, a former S.C. lawmaker who runs Mauldin-based Ground Game Strategies, will lead the group’s S.C. operations. Tripp was a Republican state representative from Greenville County for 12 years until 2006. He worked on presidential campaigns of Herman Cain in 2012, John McCain in 2000 and Phil Gramm in 1996.

Walker’s political group also named Mike Lukach to its South Carolina operation. Lukach has worked on campaigns in eight states, most recently Republican Stewart Mills’ unsuccessful congressional race in Minnesota in 2014.

Walker has ranked as the second favorite among S.C. GOP voters in early polls, trailing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Walker will appear Saturday along with a number of other presidential hopefuls at the S.C. Freedom Summit in Greenville. He is expected to make an announcement on a 2016 run in June.

Andrew Shain

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