Beltway Happenings
March 7, 2007--The South Carolina Democratic Party held a "Countdown to the South Carolina 2008 Primary" at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill.  Among those participating in the fundraiser were (left to right) emcee Mike McCurry (a South Carolina native), Congressmen John Spratt, Congressman Jim Clyburn, and Democratic chairman Joe Erwin.  Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) spoke at the event. 
SCDP chair Joe Erwin, who is finishing a four-year tenure as chair in a couple of months, said he hoped the event would raise up to $150,000 and a minimum of $125,000 towards the cost of running the January 29, 2008 primary.  He said the "hard cost" of putting on the primary is about $300,000, which does not include staff, training and other ancillary costs.  Erwin said the party's goal is to raise as much as a $1 million between now and the primary, a figure he termed "attainable" but a "stretch goal."   In addition to raising funds, Erwin said the event was geared to be a kickoff event for the national media.  In an interview, Erwin pointed to the state's racial diversity--one third of the population is African-American.  He also sought to draw attention to what is different about South Carolina from an issues standpoint.  He said education is probably the top issue, and, in a state that has been hurt more than most by outsourcing, jobs are a major concern. 
House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn played a major role, along with Joe Erwin, in advocating for South Carolina's early primary.  Clyburn is preparing for his famous fish fry to be held on April 27 immediately after the South Carolina Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Dinner.   He explained that the event is designed for the Democratic activists "who can't afford to pop down $500 for a plate of cold chicken."  "When they [the candidates] finish with the upper crust, they come and spend a little time with the rank and file," Clyburn said.

Copyright © 2007  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action