Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina

Sanders announces first endorsements in South Carolina
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders to call on 2020 Democrats to reject money from drug, health insurance industries The hidden connection between immigration and health care: Our long-term care crisis Harris tops Biden in California 2020 poll MORE (I-Vt.) on Thursday announced his first endorsements in South Carolina, a pivotal primary state.

The endorsements came from seven black state representatives and were announced ahead of Sanders's speech to the state's Legislative Black Caucus later on Thursday. He was also endorsed by South Carolina AFL-CIO President Emeritus Donna DeWitt.

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“We’re proud to have the endorsement of some of South Carolina’s most distinguished elected officials, labor, and faith leaders," said Sanders's South Carolina state director Kwadjo Campbell. "With their support, and the support of thousands of volunteers across the state, our campaign is building a grassroots movement that will fundamentally transform this country."

South Carolina is expected to play a key role in the 2020 Democratic contest because of how early it holds its primary and the diversity of its voters.

Other high-profile candidates like Sens. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Lawmakers pay tribute to late Justice Stevens Schumer throws support behind bill to study reparations MORE (D-N.J.), Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (D-Calif.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharKlobuchar fundraises for McConnell challenger: 'Two Amys are better than one' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet MORE (D-Minn.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenHarris tops Biden in California 2020 poll The Hill's Morning Report - A raucous debate on race ends with Trump admonishment Democrats fret over Trump cash machine MORE (D-Mass.), as well as former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump digs in ahead of House vote to condemn tweet Poll: Biden, Sanders and Warren lead 2020 Democrats in New Hampshire Poll: Biden leads 2020 Democrats by 13 points, followed by Sanders, Warren and Harris MORE (D-Texas), have campaigned heavily in the state, almost a year before its primary.

State Rep. John King (D) became the first South Carolina lawmaker to make a 2020 endorsement, declaring his support for Booker earlier this month.

Soon after, Harris announced five key endorsements in the state.

State Rep. Marvin Pendarvis (D) has endorsed O'Rourke.

Among the lawmakers endorsing Sanders are Rep. Krystle Simmons (D), the first black woman to represent the low country region in the state House, and state Rep. Terry Alexander, a reverend who endorsed Sanders in 2016.

“Bernie Sanders is a champion for women's rights and has been rocking with middle class and minority communities since before he was popular. What he did back then matters just as much as it does now,” Simmons said in a statement.

“I support Sen. Sanders, because I believe in his positions that will move this country forward,” Alexander said. “His openness to change, his progressive stance on issues that impact so many people; this is why I was one of the first legislators in South Carolina to endorse him in 2016 and am doing so this year so that we can finish what he started many years ago.”