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.


“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 BullockInternal poll shows tight battle in Montana House race The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic Unity Taskforce unveils party platform recommendations The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump backs another T stimulus, urges governors to reopen schools 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 HarrisDemocrats awash with cash in battle for Senate Tammy Duckworth hits back at Tucker Carlson: 'Walk a mile in my legs' The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump wants schools to reopen, challenged on 'harmless' COVID-19 remark MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerData shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs New Jersey incumbents steamroll progressive challengers in primaries Amy Kennedy wins NJ primary to face GOP's Van Drew MORE (D-N.J.), the only two black candidates in the field. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office Tammy Duckworth is the epitome of the American Dream Mexico's president uses US visit to tout ties with Trump 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.