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Harris announces South Carolina endorsements

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisBiden talks NATO, climate change in first presidential call with France's Macron Biden must wait weekend for State Department pick Senators introduce bill to award Officer Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal MORE’s (D-Calif.) presidential campaign on Thursday announced a slate of endorsements from South Carolina lawmakers as the California Democrat hopes to put up a strong showing in The Palmetto State’s early primary.

The campaign announced endorsements from state Rep. Pat Henegan, state Sen. Darrell Jackson, state Rep. JA Moore, Berkeley County Democratic Party Chairwoman Melissa Watson and former candidate for governor and Florence attorney Marguerite Willis. All five will serve as South Carolina co-chairs for the Harris campaign.

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“I’m honored these leaders have joined our campaign in the Palmetto State to build an economy that works for everyone, including raising the salaries of South Carolina teachers,” Harris said in a statement. “I am committed to organizing and campaigning in every corner of the state and I’m proud our co-chairs reflect the diversity of South Carolina Democrats.” 

Harris, one of over a dozen Democrats running in the party’s presidential primary, is aiming to boost her delegate count early in the nominating process by capitalizing on her strong ties to the South Carolina’s largely black primary electorate. 

The California Democrat’s new endorsements, though, come from a diverse group of politicians, seeking to highlight the diversity in age and ethnicity among South Carolina’s larger voting base. Willis, who is white, and Watson, who is black, both come from the eastern, coastal regions of the state. All five endorsers represent central and eastern South Carolina and range from 34 to 71 years old.

Jackson is the state’s longest-serving black senator, holding his office for 27 years, and is also the pastor of one of South Carolina’s most prominent African-American churches. He said he was attracted to Harris’s recently-announced proposal to boost pay for teachers.

“I'm endorsing Kamala Harris because she has proposed a groundbreaking plan that would finally treat teachers with the respect they deserve. Her plan specifically addresses the needs of teachers working in economically disenfranchised schools where kids need increased support and attention. I'm proud to stand by her as we fight to make sure every child receives an education that can set them on the path to achieving the American dream,” he said. 

Moore, whose sister was killed in a 2015 shooting, touted Harris’s platforms on a litany of progressive priorities including teacher pay and gun control.

“She has consistently shown through her campaign a commitment to progressive policies. She supports closing loopholes for gun purchases, fighting for the rights and pay of teachers, and reforming our broken criminal justice system. I know Senator Harris is the best person to represent Americans who truly believe in ‘liberty and justice for all,’” he said. 

State Rep. John King became the first South Carolina lawmaker last week to make a 2020 endorsement, declaring his support for Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats seek answers on impact of Russian cyberattack on Justice Department, Courts Senate confirms Biden's intel chief, giving him first Cabinet official Booker brings girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson, to inauguration MORE (D-N.J.).

State Rep. Terry Alexander told The Associated Press Thursday he’s backing Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersBoycott sham impeachment Sunday shows - Biden agenda, Trump impeachment trial dominate Sanders: Senate may use budget reconciliation to pass Biden agenda MORE, following up on his support for the Vermont Independent in 2016.