COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden on Monday introduced the appointment of former Columbia, South Carolina, Mayor Steve Benjamin as a high adviser, filling a key White House function from a state that has develop into essential to the Democratic Get together forward of the 2024 election cycle.
Benjamin will develop into director of the White House Office of Engagement. He takes over from one other former mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, who had assumed the function in June and is returning to Atlanta, officers mentioned.
Benjamin will oversee White House efforts “to make sure neighborhood leaders, numerous views, and new voices have the chance to tell the work of the President in an inclusive, clear and accountable method,” in line with the White House. In a launch, Biden referred to as Benjamin a “longtime public servant” whose “deep relationships throughout the nation” would properly serve the administration.
Benjamin, 53, has lengthy been thought of a rising star in Democratic politics, serving three phrases as Columbia’s mayor, and the primary Black mayor within the metropolis’s historical past. Serving as president of the U.S. Convention of Mayors and African Individuals Mayors Affiliation, Benjamin spoke on the 2016 Democratic Nationwide Conference and was among the many candidates thought of for Hillary Clinton’s operating mate that yr. He opted to not run for a fourth time period in 2021.
The appointment comes at a time when Benjamin’s house state is turning into much more crucial to Democrats as they face the 2024 presidential marketing campaign. Earlier this yr, the Democratic National Committee voted to hold their first nominating contest of the following cycle in South Carolina, supplanting Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada in an effort to extra deeply symbolize the needs of Black voters.
In South Carolina’s 2020 main, Benjamin met with almost all of the 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls, providing recommendation as they wound their method by South Carolina, a state wherein help from Black voters is crucial to Democratic candidates’ success. Benjamin initially gave his endorsement to former New York Metropolis Mayor Mike Bloomberg earlier than supporting Biden, who scored a thundering win within the state’s main.
Benjamin additionally served within the administration of Gov. Jim Hodges, who in 1998 was the latest Democrat elected to South Carolina’s highest workplace. Earlier this yr, his spouse, DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, was sworn in as a choose on the 4th US. Circuit Court docket of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, appointed to the submit by Biden.
Meg Kinnard might be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP