CHARLESTON, South Carolina — I met Jaime Harrison, the first African American chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, before the recent Democratic presidential debate.
And I learned this: Harrison is a man on a mission. He’s working overtime to fire-up his base and create a sense of urgency among Democrats before the Feb. 27 primary.
“My goal is to re-energize the Democratic Party leadership in South Carolina and re-energize voters,” Harrison, 39, a lawyer, said in an interview.
“We need stronger operations in counties throughout South Carolina,” he said. “We can’t win statewide if our local counties can’t get the vote out.”
Harrison, who brings his own brand of energy to the South Carolina Democratic leadership post, is most proud of a new video venture called “Chair Chats,” where he interviews local and national politicians, educators, and newsmakers.
He said the concept for “Chair Chats” started “when I was sitting on the porch rocking with my granddaddy and talking about family. So during “Chair Chats,” I talk to a variety of people, sitting in rocking chairs, sipping lemonade, and talking politics and about life.”
He says he wants to “humanize” politicians and newsmakers for South Carolina voters.
So far, Harrison has interviewed Princeton University professor Cornel West; Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. James Clyburn; (D-SC). Harrison is scheduled to interview former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) in the coming weeks.
Originally from Orangeburg, South Carolina, Harrison was a former director of floor operations and counsel for Clyburn and he worked closely with the House and Senate leadership. He also served as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus.
According to his website, Harrison was named six times as one of Roll Call’s “Fabulous Fifty Movers and Shakers Behind the Scenes on Capitol Hill” and he was listed as one of The Hill’s “35 Stellar Staffers Under 35.” As a first-generation college graduate, Harrison earned a bachelor’s from Yale University and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
And now he’s planning to shake up the state’s Democratic leadership, county by county.