Twenty-two Democrats running for president in 2020 will attend House Majority Whip James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) fish fry in South Carolina next Friday as they jockey for support in the early primary state.
The event is likely to be the largest gathering of the 2020 candidates so far this election cycle, as nearly the entire primary field will attend. The fish fry, founded 30 years ago, has steadily grown into a campaign staple every four years and comes shortly before the first primary debates later this month.
“Each candidate will be given a generous moment to address the audience. The candidates are then encouraged to enjoy the fried fish, join in the electric slide and take selfies with the attendees,” a press release for the event said.
The only major contender of the 24-candidate field to not have confirmed their attendance is Montana Gov. Steve BullockSteve BullockKoch-backed group launches ad campaign to support four vulnerable GOP senators Overnight Energy: US Park Police say ‘tear gas’ statements were ‘mistake’ | Trump to reopen area off New England coast for fishing | Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues Vulnerable Republicans embrace green issues in battle to save seats MORE.
The fish fry is scheduled around several other major events in the Palmetto State, including the Democratic Party Blue Palmetto dinner, the South Carolina Democratic Party Convention and a Planned Parenthood Action Fund forum.
South Carolina’s primary is crucial for candidates to put up an early showing of support, particularly among African American voters, who make up 61 percent of the state’s primary electorate.
The contest has particularly high stakes for Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook McEnany says Juneteenth is a very ‘meaningful’ day to Trump MORE (D-Calif.) and Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerRand Paul introduces bill to end no-knock warrants Black lawmakers unveil bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol Harris grapples with defund the police movement amid veep talk MORE (D-N.J.), the only two black candidates in the field. Former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenHillicon Valley: Biden calls on Facebook to change political speech rules | Dems demand hearings after Georgia election chaos | Microsoft stops selling facial recognition tech to police Trump finalizing executive order calling on police to use ‘force with compassion’ The Hill’s Campaign Report: Biden campaign goes on offensive against Facebook MORE is also hoping to leverage his connection to former President Obama to gin up support with black voters.
A poll from The Post and Courier last month showed Biden with a 31-point edge over his nearest primary competition.
“It’s not a surprise to me because black people go with their with history. They have a relationship with Biden, and they believe in them,” Clyburn said in an interview with NPR published Friday.
Beyond interacting with primary voters, candidates are likely to try to ingratiate themselves with Clyburn, who is widely viewed as a Democratic kingmaker in the state. But he’s vowed to withhold his primary endorsement this cycle.
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