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South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison picked as new Democratic National Committee chair
President-elect Joe Biden also names Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Texas U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela as vice chairs
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Two months after coming up short in a $130-million quest to flip a U.S. Senate seat in South Carolina, Jaime Harrison has been picked by President-elect Joe Biden to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee.
Biden also named Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela of Texas as two of four vice chairs of the party, putting Southerners in three key positions atop a party that made some headway in 2020 after struggling for relevance in the region.
In a statement, Biden said the new team leaders “represent the very best of the Democratic Party.”
“We need to elect Democrats across our country and up and down the ballot. To do that is going to take tireless leadership committed to strengthening Democratic infrastructure across our states,” he said. “I know they will get the job done.”
Reacting to his selection on Twitter, Harrison said he was “humbled and excited” by his selection.
“Together, we’ll organize everywhere, invest in state parties, expand the map, and elect Democrats who will be champions for the working people of this country,” he said.
While the selections of Harrison, Bottoms and Vela will still have to be ratified by the full national committee, Democrats have traditionally allowed incoming presidents to have full control of party leadership.
Harrison, 44, a former aide to House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, served as chair of the Palmetto State’s Democratic Party from 2013 to 2017, before making an unsuccessful run for national DNC chair.
Last year, he ran against Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, raising and spending more than $130 million on the race by building a nationwide fundraising network. But despite some polling showing the race to be close, Graham beat him by more than 10 points in November.
Biden’s selection of Harrison had been expected after Clyburn, a key backer of Biden during last year’s South Carolina primary, endorsed his candidacy.
Bottoms, in her first term as mayor, will lead the DNC’s efforts in civic engagement and voter protection. She had also been a Biden surrogate during the campaign and was given consideration as his vice presidential running mate.
Vela, who represents the Rio Grande Valley in Congress, was another early Biden backer. He had reportedly been considered for a post in the new Cabinet but was not selected.
Neither Bottoms or Vela will have to give up their elected post to serve as DNC vice chairs.
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North Carolina environmental official Michael Regan picked to head EPA
Regan is the first Southern official named to President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — President-elect Joe Biden has nominated Michael Regan, North Carolina’s chief environmental regulator, to head the federal Environmental Protection Agency in his new administration.
Regan, 44, is currently the secretary of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality. He is the first Southern official to be named to the Biden Cabinet and, if confirmed, will be the first black man to run the EPA, overseeing nearly 14,000 employees and a $9 billion budget.
Prior to being appointed as head of the Tar Heel State’s environmental department in 2017 by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, Regan had been an official with the Environmental Defense Fund, an environmental advocacy group, working on clean energy issues.
He has previously worked as a regulator for the EPA from 1998 to 2008 during both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
Earlier this year, Regan reached an agreement with Duke Energy to clean up coal ash contamination in North Carolina and ordered a subsidiary of chemical giant DuPont to clean up toxic chemicals from the Cape Fear River.
However, he was criticized by a number of environmental groups for approving permits for a natural gas pipeline across the state, a project that was later canceled.
The Biden transition rolled out Regan’s appointment as part of a slate of “climate nominees” expected to focus on climate change issues that will be emphasized in the new administration.
In a statement announcing their appointments, Biden said the nominees “share my belief that we have no time to waste to confront the climate crisis, protect our air and drinking water, and deliver justice to communities that have long shouldered the burdens of environmental harms.”
Regan is so far the only Southern public official named to the Biden Cabinet, although two — Lloyd Austin, the pick for defense secretary, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the pick for U.N. ambassador — have Southern roots. Austin was born in Alabama and is a graduate of Auburn University; Thomas-Greenfield is from Louisiana and graduated from Louisiana State University.
Louisiana U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond will serve as a senior White House advisor, and Kate Bedingfield, the new White House communications director, grew up in the Atlanta suburbs.