The Buzz

Another Clinton SC staffer moves on to a battleground state

Jalisa Washington-Price
Jalisa Washington-Price

Another key architect of Hillary Clinton’s S.C. landslide primary victory in February has moved up to the big leagues for the general election.

Jalisa Washington, a Columbia native and the daughter of former Richland County councilman Kelvin Washington, has taken over as regional political director of Clinton’s southwest Ohio campaign.

Washington was Clinton’s S.C. political director, helping the Democratic presidential nominee beat U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont by nearly 50 percentage points in the state’s primary.

Now, the 27-year-old University of South Carolina graduate moves to a state where the past four presidential elections each were decided by fewer than 5 percentage points – with two victories going to each major party.

“Ohio is one of the key battleground states for this election,” Washington said. “All eyes are on Ohio.”

Clinton’s S.C. state director for the February primary, Clay Middleton, also has moved on to a swing state for the general election. Middleton now is the regional political director for Clinton’s north Florida campaign.

“People saw what we did in South Carolina to organize minorities and get the word out about Hillary Clinton amongst African Americans,” Washington said.

South Carolina’s presidential primary proved pivotal to winning the Democratic nomination in 2008, for President Barack Obama, and in 2016, for Clinton.

However, the state last voted for the Democratic candidate for president in 1976. Because of that, Democratic presidential candidates spend little or no time in the state, conceding it to Republicans. This year, however, polls show Clinton running close to Republican Donald Trump in the Palmetto State. Still, most analysts expect the GOP candidate eventually to win the state.

Washington also has worked for the S.C. House and in government affairs. In 2014, she worked on former state Rep. Bakari Sellers’ unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor.

2nd District showdown

U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson and his Democratic opponent in this fall’s general election have agreed to a debate, Columbia librarian Arik Bjorn told The Buzz.

Bjorn said the Springdale Republican agreed last weekend to square off with him before the Nov. 8 election.

Details of the debate – time, place, moderator and TV – still are being worked out. Bjorn told The Buzz he expects the 2nd District debate to take a few weeks to put together.

Bjorn said he is excited to press “status quo Joe” on the 2nd District’s crumbling roads and bridges, and its constituents’ lack of access to health care. “We’re very happy that he’s willing to share with the people of South Carolina what he’s been up to the past 15 years.”

Wilson has won eight elections for the 2nd Distict seat, which includes Republican stronghold Lexington County. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

Democrats open Lowcountry campaign office

S.C. Democrats on Tuesday opened their 2016 campaign headquarters in North Charleston.

U.S. Senate candidate Thomas Dixon and 1st District candidate Dimitri Cherny will base their campaigns out of the office. Both are longshots to win.

Cherny, a political activist known for tattooing Bernie Sanders’ name on his arm, is outmatched nearly 470-to-1 in campaign cash on hand by veteran U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, in the 1st District race, according to recent election filings.

Dixon, a 63-year-old North Charleston pastor and political newcomer, similarly is expected to be steamrolled by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-North Charleston.

Avery G. Wilks: 803-771-8362, @averygwilks