South Carolina will have the First in the South Presidential Primary on Feb. 29. S.C. sets the tone for how candidates can do in Southern and other racially diverse states. In both 2008 and 2016, South Carolina was the first state where the eventual nominee broke 50 percent. So this is our time to help choose the next president.
Charleston has had visits from all of the Democrats on the S.C. ballot for president. We have become a state of voters expecting to shake the hand or take a selfie with presidential candidates before we choose our candidate. You will have the chance to see each of them in person again before Feb. 29, and I urge you to do so.
Charleston will also host a debate with the Congressional Black Caucus. Sorry, I do not have access to debate tickets. Believe me, my wife is asking me and I cannot even tell her yes! I can, however, invite you to a watch party and other events surrounding the debate.
This momentum will continue. Democrats care about good health care, a living wage, sending our kids to college, and addressing climate change. Those messages are resonating with voters. The Charleston Democrats have opened a year-round volunteer office to answer questions and facilitate our work for candidates.
Charleston is represented by two terrific members of Congress, Majority Whip Jim Clyburn and U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham. Joe's frequent town halls and brewery stops are well attended. They will likely be joined this year by Jaime Harrison in the U.S. Senate. Jaime is a first-time candidate, but very experienced. He's ready to secure good schools, clean water, and jobs that support families. And his campaign is getting attention, raising more than $3.5 million this last quarter, more than any S.C. candidate has ever raised in one quarter! He is going to have the resources to beat U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and will be a wonderful senator.
In March, there will be more Democratic candidates filing for office than any time in 30 years — a number of candidates have already announced and I talk with more folks everyday who are considering running. Charleston County and many local districts that used to vote Republican now have a pattern of voting for Democrats.
Many Democrats have won countywide elections in recent years. We are proud of Register of Deeds Michael Miller and Treasurer Mary Tinkler offering new programs to ease the tax burden, as well as Auditor Peter Tecklenburg. This year, Ben Pogue is running for solicitor, sharing how our criminal prosecution system should intersect with our community and our schools.
First-time S.C. Reps. Krystle Matthews and JA Moore have stood up for the people in North Charleston. Air Force veteran Ed Sutton is storming House 114. Two passionate women have announced runs for House District 115, and one will likely be successful with voting for Democrats becoming the norm on James Island.
We have at least one Democrat running for several local state senate seats. Richard Hricik is running for in District 43, which stretches along the coast. Kathryn Whittaker is knocking on doors in Charleston and Berkeley to take District 37. Sam Skardon is convincing voters across District 41 that he is ready to serve. If four new Democrats win statewide, the State Senate will have an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Gridlock would lessen and we would see more progress in the legislature. And we will have S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson as chair of the county legislative delegation.
You deserve candidates that share your values! Even if you have voted for Republicans in the past, listen to candidates' priorities and I bet you will find some Democrats compelling.
Colleen Condon is chair of the Charleston County Democratic Party.