If he’s named as chair, Harrison will inherit an organization in significantly better shape than it was when Tom Perez took over in 2017. Under Perez, the DNC has paid off its debt, rebuilt its infrastructure, and boosted employee morale. No one, though, expects that keeping Democrats organized will be easy, especially without a common political enemy in Donald Trump. The next chair will help decide the party’s messaging ahead of the 2022 midterms and play a big role in the fight over which states will hold the first presidential primaries in 2024.
Harrison became nationally known this year during his run against Senator Lindsey Graham, as he set fundraising records and became a cause for Democrats far beyond his state. Graham ultimately won by a much-wider-than-expected 10-point margin, boosted by South Carolina’s partisan lean and his role in confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. But the goodwill that Harrison built up and the coming vacancy at the top of the DNC—Perez confirmed to me yesterday that he won’t be running for another term—has many Democrats thinking that Harrison is a perfect fit for the role. “The timing just seems right, frankly,” said Trav Robertson, a friend of Harrison’s who is now in Harrison’s old role as South Carolina Democratic Party chair.
More than just timing is involved. Harrison has the support of James Clyburn, his mentor and former boss, who is the House Democratic whip and whose endorsement during the primary campaign helped power Biden to the nomination.