Biden picks Jaime Harrison for DNC chair

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Ed O'Keefe
·2 min read
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President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Jaime Harrison, the former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from South Carolina who raised record sums of money in his failed bid to unseat GOP Senator Lindsey Graham, to lead the Democratic National Committee, the transition team announced Thursday. 

Harrison was one of a number of DNC officers announced by the transition team on Thursday, including three women who were considered on Mr. Biden's shortlist for vice president. Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has been selected for vice chair of civic engagement and voter protection, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for vice chair and Senator Tammy Duckworth for vice chair. 

The other selections were Representative Filemon Vela Jr. for vice chair, Jason Rae for secretary, Virginia McGregor for treasurer and Chris Korge for national finance chair. 

In a statement, Mr. Biden called his picks "the very best of the Democratic party." 

According to tradition, an incoming Democratic president gets to choose who should serve as chairman of the DNC and the choice is usually approved with little opposition by party leaders.

Harrison, 44, is the former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, a former senior DNC official and a close friend of House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, Democrat of South Carolina, for whom he once worked. Clyburn has emerged as an even more influential Democratic Party powerbroker after he helped revive the presidential campaign of his good friend Mr. Biden with an 11th-hour endorsement ahead of the South Carolina Democratic presidential primary last February. Harrison didn't return requests for comment on Thursday.

Tom Perez, the current DNC chairman, did not seek another term.

Harrison's bid for the U.S. Senate was once considered improbable, but polling last summer put him even or slightly ahead of Graham, who'd never faced a well-funded Democratic opponent. Harrison ultimately lost by 10 points but raised $132 million for his campaign, making his bid one of the best-financed ever among Democratic congressional candidates.The president-elect has longstanding ties to the Palmetto State, where he's vacationed in the past and was close to the late Senator Fritz Hollings and was a frequent collaborator with the state's late long-serving Republican senator, Strom Thurmond.

Mr. Biden will also have a say in who fills other top leadership positions, including five vice chairmanships. Those slots are expected to be filled by elected officeholders, said one of the people familiar with the process.

The DNC, which comprises hundreds of members, including state party chairmen, is set to hold its annual winter meeting on January 21.

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