Jaime Harrison is Biden’s pick for Democratic National Committee chair

WASHINGTON — President-Elect Joe Biden has tapped Jaime Harrison to lead the Democratic National Committee, which will meet next week to elect a new chairman, a senior Democrat close to the DNC confirmed to NBC News.

Harrison, 44, the former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman, ran for the top national job in 2017 and lost to Tom Perez, who is now leaving the chairman job. Perez gave Harrison a senior role in the party.

Harrison then became a national Democratic figure and broke fundraising records in a failed bid last year to unseat Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Presidents typically select the person they want to want lead their party apparatus and the committee’s roughly 500 members are expected to ratify whomever Biden chooses for the role when they meet virtually next Thursday, a day after Biden’s Inauguration.

Perez, a former Labor secretary who helped rebuild the party after a brutal year in 2016 that included a Russian hack, accusations of bias by others Democrats, and the loss of the presidency to Donald Trump, has said he will not seek a second term.

Harrison raised over $130 million in his 2020 Senate bid and attracted national attention from liberals looking to oust Graham, but fell about 10 percentage points short. The $57 million fundraising haul he pulled in during the 2020 third quarter shattered the previous single-quarter fundraising record of any Senate race in American history.

Harrison, who is African-American, has long advocated inside the DNC for greater investment in Southern states, which Democrats have often written off, a strategy allies say was vindicated by Democrats’ recent wins in Georgia.

Harrison, who cut his teeth working as political floor director for Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., when he was House majority whip, was raised in rural Orangeburg and become the first member of his family to graduate from college and attend law school.

“We were in a ditch,” Perez told NBC recently of the state of the party when he took over. “We had to earn trust back.”

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His tenure was rocky at times and he had plenty of doubters and critics, but Perez said the fact that the party won back the House, Senate and White House under his watch speaks for itself.

And he said he was confident Biden will continue to rebuild the party, after former President Barack Obama was criticized by some for neglecting its infrastructure and focusing on his own political group, Organizing for America.

“I know now the president-elect is going to work hard to sustain that infrastructure. He’s very very attuned to the job of winning up and the down ballot, and not just federal races,” Perez said.

The New York Times first reported Harrison’s selection.



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