Harrison was selected to lead the Democratic National Committee in January | Credit: Ruta Smith file photo

Democratic Party leaders from across the country on Tuesday kicked off a week of meetings in Charleston, ahead of President Joe Biden’s visit Friday to the state’s largest historically Black university.

Members of the Democratic National Committee’s executive committee and the national Association of State Democratic Committees (ASDC), made up of state party leaders, are meeting this week to talk strategy and sit in on training sessions geared toward organizing and running political campaigns. Saturday’s conference of DNC leaders is the group’s first in-person meeting since S.C. native Jaime Harrison was elected DNC chairman earlier this year. Harrison lost to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham last year, but rallied unprecedented fundraising sums during his campaign.


S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson said the meetings show the national party still has its eye on smaller states like South Carolina, where Republicans run much of the government.

“It shows that the Democrats are not giving up on this state,” he told the City Paper Tuesday during his drive to Charleston from Columbia. “And they’re not giving up on the rural South, or rural parts of the country.”

“We’re we’re coming down here to talk and strategize and to see what it is we’ve learned from the past so that we can be successful in the future,” he said.

As Democratic leaders meet downtown this week, Biden is scheduled to deliver the winter commencement address at South Carolina State University in Orangeburg. Political observers have said Biden’s win in the 2020 South Carolina Democratic Primary was a turning point for his campaign, and credited S.C. Congressman Jim Clyburn’s endorsement as one of the deciding factors.

During a press conference Wednesday, Clyburn said the president is also keeping the Palmetto State in mind.

“He’s demonstrated with this visit that he’s not going to forget South Carolina,” Clyburn said, according to a report in The State.

A schedule of ASDC events viewed by the City Paper includes everything from the basics of how to run a meeting to fundraising and event safety training. State party leaders are scheduled to dine one night at Bowens Island Restaurant, owned by the family of Robert Barber, a former Democratic state House rep and member of Charleston County school board.

Attendees will also take part in a “DemsCare” service project event at an unspecified location, an initiative Robertson said Harrison has spearheaded.

Both groups’ meetings are taking place downtown at the Marriott hotel on Lockwood Drive.

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