Jaime R. Harrison (born February 5, 1976) is an American politician and former lobbyist. He served as the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party from 2013 to 2017 and is an associate chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Harrison is running against incumbent senator Lindsey Graham for the South Carolina U.S. Senate seat in the 2020 election.
Harrison was born and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He was raised by his mother, Patricia Harrison, and his grandparents. In 1994, he was selected to the United States Senate Youth Program. He attended Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School and received a scholarship to Yale University, where he majored in political science.
After graduating from Yale in 1998, Harrison worked as a teacher for a year at his former high school. In 1999, he was appointed chief operating officer of College Summit, a non-profit organization that helps low-income youth find a path to college and career. He earned his Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center in 2004.
After leaving College Summit, Harrison became involved in politics, working for Jim Clyburn as his director of floor operations while Clyburn was the Majority Whip of the United States House of Representatives. Harrison went on to serve as executive director of the House Democratic Caucus and the vice chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He later served as a lobbyist for the Podesta Group. His clients at the Podesta Group included banks such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo, financial giants Berkshire Hathaway and Avenue Capital Management, pharmaceutical companies Merck and Amylin, casinos such as Caesars and Harrah's; the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity; Walmart, General Motors, Google, and Lockheed Martin. In addition to lobbying work at Podesta Group, he has also lobbied on behalf of United Way Worldwide and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities.
In May 2013, Harrison became the chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party. He is the first African American to have served in this role.
Harrison declared his candidacy for chairperson of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the February 2017 election. He defended his eight-year record at the Podesta Group, saying, "It's how I pay back the $160,000 of student loan debt." Harrison ended his bid for DNC chair on February 23, 2017, and endorsed Tom Perez.
Harrison accepted a position as associate chairman and counselor of the DNC (appointed by Tom Perez), where he implemented a program called "Every ZIP Code Counts." The program 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.
2020 U.S. Senate election
Harrison filed paperwork on February 7, 2019, to challenge Senator Lindsey Graham by running for his seat in the U.S. Senate in the 2020 election. No Democrat has won a statewide election in South Carolina since 2006. Harrison launched his campaign on May 29, 2019, with a short video released on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
Harrison has called for expansion of Medicaid. He has called for expanded coronavirus relief. During the 2020 Senate election, Harrison criticized his opponent Lindsey Graham for attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Harrison supports the legalization of cannabis.
Despite their political rivalry, Harrison is friends with Matt Moore, a former chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party. The two co-taught a course at the University of South Carolina during the fall semester of 2015.
Harrison lives with his wife, Marie Boyd, and their two sons in Columbia, South Carolina.