Ex-VP Biden backing longtime ally in SC state Senate race
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A longtime fixture in South Carolina’s Democratic political circles announced Wednesday that he’s getting a campaign boost from one of the party’s top dogs.
In an email to supporters, Dick Harpootlian said that he is being supported by former Vice President Joe Biden in his special election quest for a state Senate seat in the Columbia area. Harpootlian released a 60-second ad — which the campaign says is running on radio stations, but online is accompanied by video and images — in which Biden asks voters to support his bid.
“I’ve known Dick for a long time,” Biden says in the spot . “He’s a fighter who stops at nothing to get things done and makes South Carolina a much better place.”
Biden has long been politically allied with Harpootlian, a former prosecutor and Democratic Party chairman in this early presidential primary state. Harpootlian, an early backer of Barack Obama’s presidential bid here, unsuccessfully tried to persuade Biden to enter the 2016 presidential race and bemoaned the former senator’s decision not to run.
“It’s bittersweet,” Harpootlian told The Associated Press that year, after his appearance with Biden at a fundraiser for a Democratic congressional hopeful in the state. “He, in my opinion, would be 20 points ahead of Trump right now, and we wouldn’t be in the nip and tuck race we are.”
Biden has a long relationship with South Carolina, frequently vacationing here with his family and having had close ties to several of the state’s other notable political figures. He eulogized the late Strom Thurmond at the longtime U.S. senator’s 2003 funeral and traveled to Charleston last year for the unveiling of a statue of former U.S. Sen. Ernest “Fritz” Hollings outside a federal courthouse.
In this year’s South Carolina gubernatorial contest, the former vice president is backing state Rep. James Smith, the Democratic nominee. Smith is among the Democrats who have said they’d like to see the 75-year-old Biden make a run for the White House in 2020.
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