Wednesday, March 17, 2021 - Jaime Harrison is the new Chairman of the DNC and former staffer who got his start working for legendary South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn. In 2018, he co-authored a book about staffers called “Climbing the Hill: How to Build a Career in Politics and Make a Difference”. Jaime ran for a U.S. Senate seat in South Carolina in 2020 and is said to represent the future of the Democratic Party.
Jaime Harrison was born February 5, 1976 and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina by his mother and his grandparents. In 1994, he was selected to the United States Senate Youth Program – an annual scholarship competition where two high schoolers are selected from each state to receive a $10,000 scholarship and a week-long trip to DC – and eventually received a scholarship to Yale University, where he received his B.A. in political science in 1998. After graduating from Yale, Jaime worked as a teacher at his former high school for one year and eventually was appointed COO of College Summit, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income youth find a path to college and career. He later went on to earn his JD from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.
After leaving College Summit, he started working in politics, working for then-Majority Whip Jim Clyburn as Director of Floor Operations. Jaime then went on to serve as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus and the vice chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He has said “I always call Clyburn my political dad in so many ways. I’ve learned so much from him. We’re the same when it comes to recognizing what is at the core of being a Democrat is making sure we provide opportunity to everybody to be the best person he or she can be.”
He worked as a lobbyist for the Podesta Group, where his clients included banks (BOA, Wells Fargo, Berkshire Hathaway), pharmaceutical companies, casinos, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and Walmart, among others, and eventually, in 2013, he became the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party – the first African American to have served in this role.
In February 2017, Jaime declared his candidacy for chairperson for the DNC, but ended his bid on February 23, endorsing Tom Perez. He accepted a position as associate chairman and counselor of the DNC, where he implemented a program called “Every ZIP Code Counts” – a program that supplied each state party with $10,000 per month so long as the state party did an analysis of its strengths and weaknesses for its internal operations. He challenged Lindsey Graham for the SC Senate seat during the 2020 election, raising $57 million in Q3 of 2020 – the largest quarterly total by a US Senate candidate ever, breaking Beto O’Rourke’s record in the 2018 Texas election. He also raised $109 million in total, the most ever by a US Senate Candidate (also beating Beto’s record). He won the Democratic nomination unopposed, but ultimately lost the race to Graham 54/44.
Jaime was nominated to be Chair of the DNC after Biden’s elected and was elected into the role on January 21, 2021.