Category Archives: Joe Riley

If you voted for James Smith — or any of these other top SC Democrats — then you should be voting for Joe Biden

Joe Biden campaigning with us in October 2018.

Joe Biden campaigning with us in October 2018.

In some very important ways, the Joe Biden campaign for president in South Carolina is, in my view, a continuation of the James Smith for governor campaign.

It’s not just that James himself is supporting Joe, as Joe supported him. At the recent Biden event at 701 Whaley, I was struck by how many of our key people from the 2018 campaign were continuing the mission by supporting Joe. It’s something I’d been aware of for some time, but hadn’t really thought about for a simple reason — it just seemed the most natural thing in the world.

At the top, you have Kendall Corley — who was our political director in 2018 — heading up Biden’s campaign in South Carolina. And Biden’s state political director is Scott Harriford, who was James’ driver and “body man” in 2018, and held the title of deputy political director. Scott was the first person James hired for the campaign, back in the summer of 2017, and was right there at his side from then through Election Day. (I thought I had an intense, whirlwind experience those last eight days on “the bus,” but Scott had been doing it for way over a year.)

Smith campaign alumni Ashley Medbery Floyd, me, and Noah Barker at a Biden event on Feb. 11.

Smith campaign alumni Ashley Medbery Floyd, me, and Noah Barker at a Biden event on Feb. 11.

At the 701 Whaley event I ran into Noah Barker, who assisted me with social media in 2018. Noah, who I think has reached the ripe old age of 19, is now working for the Biden campaign while attending college.

And while she’s not actually working in the Biden operation — she’s helping Jaime Harrison run against Lindsey Graham instead — Ashley Medbery Floyd, our finance directer in 2018, was at the 701 event, too. She and Noah and I marked the occasion with a selfie.

All this is natural because, well, there is such a bond between Joe and James. Their shared values are such that I don’t see how anyone who really believed in James in 2018 — and as his communications director, I certainly did and do — could possibly do anything but support Joe.

One of the things that drove me nuts back during the campaign was the way the political reporters went ape over anything having to do with 2020 presidential candidates coming through the state. They’d call me and ask what we’d be doing together with so-and-so on his or her swing through the state, or what we had to say about it, and it would put me in a bind. We didn’t want to say anything unkind about these national Democrats, but at the same time, we couldn’t have cared less about their visits. They were here for themselves, not for us.

But not Joe. Joe was our guy, and we couldn’t wait to see him. We knew he was coming, and we were really disappointed when he had to postpone his initially planned event because of complications related to the hurricane. But finally, on Oct. 13, he came down to Charleston to do a fund-raiser for us, and it was possibly the best day of my time on the campaign. And I could tell it was a high point for everyone else. (It was such a big deal that upon arriving in Charleston, Campaign Manager Scott Hogan went to a shop on King Street and bought himself a suit, and wore it to the event. You have to know Hogan to get what a big deal that was. He normally dressed like a guy about to go out and mow the lawn.)

Anyway, I could go on and on about the way one campaign flows into the other, but I have a point to make here, and it is this: If you voted for James, if you believed in James, you should believe in Joe Biden, and vote for him. I don’t see how you work it out any other way.

James is not authorizing me to say this (I haven’t asked him). I’m saying it myself.

As communications director, I think I have as good a grasp of what the Smith campaign was about as anyone does. It was a campaign for all the people of South Carolina — black, white, old young, male, female, Democratic, Republican and independent. It was a campaign that would Leave No One Behind.

And Joe is running the exact same kind of campaign for the soul of the nation.

One more point, an elaboration on that one: Maybe James Smith isn’t your favorite Democrat. He should be, but maybe he isn’t.

Still, if you are a Democrat, or someone who frequently votes for Democrats, you should take note that pretty much every Democrat you have nominated and/or voted into statewide office in the past 20 years and more is supporting Joe Biden for president. And for good reason.

I’m talking not just James, but Vincent Sheheen, who was your standard-bearer twice.

And Jim Hodges, our state’s last Democratic governor.

And Dick Riley, the last Democratic governor before Hodges. (And speaking of great public servants with that name, the greatest mayor of his generation in the country, Joe Riley.)

And Inez Tenenbaum, the last superintendent of education who was (and still is) a Democrat.

Now, Jim Clyburn — the current highest-ranking Democrat in the state, and one of the most powerful in the country — has joined that list. And it’s a long list. The Post and Courier put most of it together a few weeks ago, before Hodges had come out for Joe.

These are people who embody the heart, the core, of what it means to be a Democrat in South Carolina. No one could be more in touch with what South Carolina Democrats care about.

Still speaking to Democrats and people who sometimes vote for them here (let’s call you DAPWSVFTs for short)… These are all people you have believed in in the past, in whom you have placed your trust. Scoff at endorsements all you like, but I’m telling you these are smart people who know these candidates, who know the country and its needs, who know South Carolina, and they are for Joe. They’re putting their reputations out there in support of him, and you might think that’s a small thing, but it isn’t.

These people know what they’re about, and they’re for Joe. And most of you DAPWSVFTs have indicated your respect and support for these people in the past. These are people who share your values.

So it makes all the sense in the world that you would join them in voting for Joe Biden for POTUS on Saturday.

That's Smith campaign veteran Kendall Corley whispering in Joe's ear as he works a crowd on MLK Day in Columbia.

That’s Smith campaign veteran Kendall Corley whispering in Joe’s ear as he works a crowd on MLK Day in Columbia.

Looking toward the post-Joe Riley era in Charleston

I hadn’t focused, until Bud Ferillo reminded me the other day, that the Joe Riley era in Charleston is about to end: There’s a mayoral election this year, and he’s not running.

Which means he’s now available to run for governor!

No, alas — I fear he’s actually retiring from politics.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this release from someone running to take his place:


Brad —

The tragedies of this past month will forever be in our memories.  Our hearts are with the families of the nine worshippers whose lives were taken in a premeditated rage.  In spite of this horrific crime of hate, love has overcome these horrible moments, and, once again, the Charleston community has shown the world how a God-loving community can and should act under the most awful circumstances.

The families of the victims, choosing to forgive rather than condemn, demonstrated the very essence of Christianity. The way in which they, Mayor Riley, Chief Mullins, Governor Haley, and the African Methodist Episcopal leadership have dealt with the tragic loss of their loved ones, have given us all reasons to be proud of them and thankful of the role that they are playing in helping our community, state, and country heal.  So, for now, let us continue to keep the main focus on:

  • Our fellow citizens who have lost their lives while rendering service to God;
  • Their families, friends, and the citizens of Charleston who are still trying to deal with the horror of their tragic deaths; and
  • Initiatives that unite us rather than divide us.

While the healing process has begun, we are also reminded that unless actions are taken to eradicate the attitudes, beliefs, and practices that allow hate to fester in our community, we may have a repeat of such senseless acts of hate. As Charlestonians, we cannot allow the continued racism embedded in the ways we treat people; we cannot return to polite, benign neglect and avoidance of the sometimes difficult actions necessary for true change.

Instead, as Charlestonians, we need to abandon the processes that isolate people from equal access to the things that allow them to actualize their fullest potential. Specifically, we need to seize this incredible display of unity as an opportunity to begin discussing ways to:

  • Create an economy that provides opportunities for all of our citizens;
  • Ensure that every child receives a first class education;
  • Strengthen the ties that bind our neighborhoods;
  • Provide affordable housing within the various neighborhoods so that families have an opportunity to live together in peace and harmony;
  • Redefine gentrification to be inclusive of all people of diverse economic and racial backgrounds; and
  • Remove, by way of inclusive and respectful dialogue, the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds to really show solidarity as a state.

As Charlestonians, let us not lose the momentum of “oneness.” Let us commit to treating all people with mutual respect, a sense of fair play, and equal access to all people.  Let us show the now and next generations that diversity and inclusion are strengths… not weaknesses.  Let us remember the words of James Weldon Johnson in the Negro Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing”:

“… Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us; facing the rising sun of our new day begun, let us march on till victory is won.“

Let us instead focus on actions, which will influence the future quality of life for all citizens of our beloved city.  How will you spend the next several months?  What will you do to move forward the equity issues of economics, shared power, and inclusion in planning the future? To avoid such discussions may imply that we lack faith and confidence in one another as Charlestonians.

Get Involved! Join Our Team Today (Click to visit website).

Thank you and God bless!


Maurice Washington
Candidate for Mayor

Mayor Riley, let’s march again

Former Gov. David Beasley joins Mayor Joe Riley on the last leg of the 2000 march.

Former Gov. David Beasley joins Mayor Joe Riley on the last leg of the 2000 march.

In 2000, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley led a march from his city to the Statehouse in Columbia to demand that our lawmakers take the Confederate flag off the dome over our seat of government.

They did — and then put it down on the lawn, behind the Confederate soldier monument. There, it is no longer in a position of false sovereignty. But it’s far more visible. Much more in-your-face.

Today, the mayor’s city is grieving because, authorities say, a young white man from Columbia went to Mayor Joe’s city to kill worshippers in a church that is unparalleled in its significance to black South Carolinians. After killing nine people, including a state senator who just hours before had been doing his duty in that very Statehouse, the gunman allegedly drove away in a car with Confederate flags on the front license plate.

Charleston and Columbia are at either end of an axis of sorrow and racial hatred. And while the U.S. and S.C. flags atop the Statehouse are at half-mast as an expression of true sorrow on the parts of most of our citizens, the Confederate flag still flies at the top of its pole.

It’s time for another march.