The Democratic National Committee elected Jaime Harrison of South Carolina as its new chair on Thursday. Harrison was President Biden’s pick to lead the Democratic Party.
Harrison, 44, previously served as chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party and was a senior DNC official. He is close to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, another South Carolina Democrat, for whom he once worked. Mr. Biden’s flagging fortunes in the Democratic primary turned around after he secured Clyburn’s endorsement, helping him to a landslide win in the South Carolina primary.
In his remarks to Democratic leaders, Harrison thanked outgoing DNC Chair Tom Perez and other party officials. He pledged to keep the momentum up.
“We are all a part of a movement that you all started and we are nowhere near done,” Harrison said. “I have no intention of letting victory turn into complacency because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t invest everywhere.”
As DNC Chair, Harrison will be responsible for leading the party over the next four years, including trying to maintain and increase Democratic majorities in Congress during the 2022 midterm elections. Historically, a sitting president’s party loses seats in Congress during the first midterm cycle and Democrats currently have very slim majorities in both houses.
Harrison said Democrats need to be active across the U.S. in order to succeed.
“We are done looking at the map, ignoring the red while we focus on a few purple areas,” Harrison said. “We are done with just focusing on our cities, while forgetting those living on dirt roads. When I look at the map, I see an entire country that is at stake”
Harrison showed his fundraising prowess during his Senate campaign. He raised more than $132 million in his bid to unseat Graham, which made him one of the best financed Congressional candidates in history. Graham, however, still went on to win the election by about 10 points.
The other Democratic leaders who were elected to senior positions in the party include three women who were once considered to be on Mr. Biden’s shortlist for vice president: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, who will be vice chair for civic engagement and voter protection, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who will be a vice chair, and Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth, who will also be a vice chair. Texas Representative Filemon Vela Jr. will also serve as a vice chair. Jason Rae will be DNC secretary, Virginia McGregor will be treasurer and Chris Korge will be national finance chair. Harrison and the slate of officers, who were also selected by Mr. Biden, passed on a 407-4 vote.
Perez gave his full support to Harrison, saying he expects the new chair will lead the Democratic Party to “higher heights.”
When Perez took the reins in 2017, Democrats had just lost the White House and were in the minority in both chambers of Congress. During his tenure, Democrats won the House in 2018 then captured the White House and Senate in 2020.
“I am so proud to have been part of this continuing movement with all of you,” Perez said. “I will always be fighting for the values of this party.”
President Biden offered his congratulations to Harrison in a taped message and said the party will work to recreate the “broadest and most diverse coalition” that helped him win the presidential election. Vice President Harris joined the meeting and said Democrats are “very fortunate” to have Harrison leading the party.
Also on Thursday, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin was re-elected to serve as president of the Association of State Democratic Committees. And the DNC announced that DNC deputy CEO Sam Cornale will become the party’s executive director.
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