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Biden Handpicks Failed Senate Candidate to Take Over Democratic Party

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The Democratic National Committee is set to formally elect Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as chairman on Thursday.

The party’s post-inauguration meeting, with the election of a full slate of new officers, will take place virtually.

Vice chairs on the roster include Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela Jr. of Texas.

Harrison — a former chairman of South Carolina’s Democrats who lost a 2020 challenge to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham — already has been put forward by President Joe Biden, continuing the tradition of sitting presidents choosing their own party’s chair.

A Yale and Georgetown Law graduate, Harrison will succeed Tom Perez, who won an unusually contentious open chairman’s election in 2017, when Democrats were out of power. After Harrison dropped out of that race to back him, Perez picked him as a deputy chair.

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“We know Jaime will commit to keep supporting state parties, and what we all need to do on the ground, to do more than just elect Joe Biden,” said Texas chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, who saw disappointing local results in November as Republicans did a better job turning out voters, including Latinos in south Texas.

Many party leaders remain wary after the down-ballot beating Democrats took even as President Barack Obama, with Biden as his running mate, won two national elections.

During their eight years in the White House, Democrats lost control of the House and Senate and bled nearly 1,000 legislative seats around the country.

Jen O’Malley Dillon, a deputy White House chief of staff and Biden’s campaign manager, pointed to Democrats’ recent Georgia Senate runoff victories as proof Biden will not preside over a repeat.

To help Raphael Warnock’s and Jon Ossoff’s runoff bids, Biden’s team helped fund at least 50 staff positions and worked closely with their campaigns on strategy and messaging. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris also each made trips to Georgia.

Harrison also comes in with the backing of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, a close Biden ally.

Harrison cut his teeth in national politics as a top Clyburn aide on Capitol Hill and has often referred to Clyburn as his “political dad.”


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