The Buzz

Richland County Rep. Neal endorses Sanders for White House

Veteran state Rep. Joe Neal, a Lower Richland Democrat, Tuesday endorsed underdog Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Neal cited Sanders’ willingness to tackle “income inequities that have been devastating the middle class” in backing the U.S. senator from Vermont.

More attention needs to be paid to making higher education affordable, expanding health insurance coverage and assuring Social Security remains a safety net for seniors, Neal said. Sanders “is the prescription for what this country needs,” he added.

Neal is one of a handful of S.C. African-American lawmakers to favor Sanders over Hillary Clinton, who has long-standing political ties in the Palmetto State and a significant lead in S.C. polls.

Neal said he will spend time before the Feb. 27 Democratic presidential primary “introducing him (Sanders) to the African-American community” through telephone calls, speeches and appearances.

Sanders is largely unknown among those voters, thus far, but his message should find favor with them, Neal said.

Tim Flach: 803-771-8483