22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry

22 presidential candidates to attend Clyburn's South Carolina fish fry
© Stefani Reynolds

Twenty-two Democrats running for president in 2020 will attend House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) fish fry in South Carolina next Friday as they jockey for support in the early primary state.

The event is likely to be the largest gathering of the 2020 candidates so far this election cycle, as nearly the entire primary field will attend. The fish fry, founded 30 years ago, has steadily grown into a campaign staple every four years and comes shortly before the first primary debates later this month.

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“Each candidate will be given a generous moment to address the audience. The candidates are then encouraged to enjoy the fried fish, join in the electric slide and take selfies with the attendees,” a press release for the event said. 

The only major contender of the 24-candidate field to not have confirmed their attendance is Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve Bullock2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown Bullock: Missing first debate not a 'blow to my campaign' 2020 Democrats share their families' immigration histories MORE

The fish fry is scheduled around several other major events in the Palmetto State, including the Democratic Party Blue Palmetto dinner, the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and a Planned Parenthood Action Fund forum. 

South Carolina’s primary is crucial for candidates to put up an early showing of support, particularly among African American voters, who make up 61 percent of the state’s primary electorate.

The contest has particularly high stakes for Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe Hill's Morning Report - Crunch time arrives for 2020 Dems with debates on deck The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate 2020 primary debate guide: Everything you need to know ahead of the first Democratic showdown MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerInslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution The Memo: All eyes on faltering Biden ahead of first debate Progressive group launches campaign to identify voters who switch to Warren MORE (D-N.J.), the only two black candidates in the field. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden, Eastland and rejecting the cult of civility Inslee unveils plan to fight fossil fuel pollution Biden lays out immigration priorities, rips Trump for 'assault on dignity' MORE is also hoping to leverage his connection to former President Obama to gin up support with black voters. 

A poll from The Post and Courier last month showed Biden with a 31-point edge over his nearest primary competition.

“It's not a surprise to me because black people go with their with history. They have a relationship with Biden, and they believe in them,” Clyburn said in an interview with NPR published Friday

Beyond interacting with primary voters, candidates are likely to try to ingratiate themselves with Clyburn, who is widely viewed as a Democratic kingmaker in the state. But he’s vowed to withhold his primary endorsement this cycle.