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Jan. 15, 2021, 6:04 a.m. ET
What Biden’s selection of Jaime Harrison to lead the D.N.C. means
Jaime Harrison raised more money than any Senate candidate in history when he challenged Senator Lindsey Graham in South Carolina last fall.
Now, after losing that race by more than 10 percentage points, he’s going to be responsible for telling his whole party how to spend its political cash.
As my colleague Jonathan Martin and I reported yesterday, Harrison is Joe Biden’s pick to lead the Democratic National Committee. Generally, when Democrats hold the White House, the committee defers to the president on the leadership of the party. So Harrison is likely to face no competition for the job. The Biden team also announced some high-profile surrogates as vice chairs, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, Representative Filemon Vela of Texas and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta.
A former state party chairman, Harrison was championed by dozens of leaders within the committee who would like to see the organization continue to invest in local political infrastructure. And having built a national profile during his race, the former Senate candidate comes to the job with a built-in base for fund-raising and news media attention.
That doesn’t mean it will be easy. Harrison will be charged with helping to navigate deeply uncertain political terrain and decide the party’s messaging ahead of what are widely expected to be some challenging midterm elections. Already, fights are simmering within the party between those who would like Biden to press his message of unifying the country and a more liberal wing that wants to see the new administration hold President Trump and his allies accountable for any misdeeds in office.
Plus, Harrison will face a simmering battle over the party’s primary nomination schedule. Some Democrats would like to see Iowa and New Hampshire — states with overwhelmingly white and older voting populations — lose their vaunted status at the start of the primary calendar. Others would like to eliminate caucuses, the complicated nominating processes used in Iowa and Nevada.
This fight will probably hit close to home for Harrison: His home state — South Carolina — votes fourth.