Nancy Pelosi is coming to SC to help Democrats raise 2020 cash

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one of the most liberal members of Congress, will headline a fundraiser for the South Carolina Democratic Party next month in one of the most conservative parts of the state.

The California lawmaker will be the special guest at a reception and dinner at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville on Oct. 4. She will appear alongside U.S. House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, South Carolina’s most influential Democrat.

“We are absolutely thrilled to welcome Speaker Pelosi to the Palmetto State, and to the Upstate,” said state party chairman Trav Robertson in a statement. “We have made incredible progress in Greenville, and have built a solid base of Democratic voters who are sick of being left behind by the GOP. Speaker Pelosi has been fighting Trump’s attacks on our jobs, our healthcare, and our values since day one — we’re excited to have her bring that fight to the Upstate.”

Pelosi has historically been a polarizing figure, inspiring Republicans to frame her as a socialist boogeyman and leaving moderate Democrats uneasy with her progressive politics.

In his first act upon declaring his candidacy for Congress in 2017, S.C. Democrat Joe Cunningham pledged he would never vote for Pelosi as his party leader.

Earlier this year, when Cunningham was sworn in as the first Democrat to serve the 1st Congressional District since 1981, he kept that promise. He will not be attending the Greenville event next month, according to his campaign manager, Allie Watters.

Still, Pelosi’s participation is like to create good buzz for the state Democratic Party in a clear sign that national Democrats are starting to take South Carolina seriously after years of writing it off as an impenetrable Republican stronghold.

In June, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., headlined the state party’s annual fundraising gala, saying that “nobody here should feel left behind.”

The Democratic establishment in Washington has pledged to protect Cunningham as he fights a difficult reelection battle next year.

Washington Democrats are also rallying behind Jaime Harrison, the Democrat seen as the best equipped to go up against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Seneca Republican, in November 2020.

Organizers of the dinner could hope to capitalize off this increased attention to marquee races while also taking advantage of the national frenzy over the upcoming First in the South Democratic presidential primary.

While 2020 presidential candidates have gone out of their way to highlight local issues to appeal to voters — like the drinking water crisis in Denmark and efforts to restrict abortions by the State Legislature — there’s little indication tweets and stump speeches on these subjects have translated into checks payable to the state party.

“The nation is watching as South Carolina continues to welcome Democrats from across the country to the Palmetto State,” reads a description of the upcoming event included on a website that has been created specifically for this engagement. “Proceeds from this dinner will help elect more Democrats, flip the State Senate, and support Democrats across the Palmetto State!”

It will cost $75 to attend the reception, $100 to attend the dinner and $150 to attend both.

Emma Dumain covers Congress and congressional leadership for McClatchy DC and the company’s newspapers around the country. She previously covered South Carolina politics out of McClatchy’s Washington bureau. From 2008-2015, Dumain was a congressional reporter for CQ Roll Call.