COLUMBIA, S.C. — State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, a South Carolina lawmaker and early backer of President Joe Biden, is leaving his legislative post two years early to take an appointment in the Biden administration.
The departure makes Kimpson the latest in a string of South Carolina Democrats taking positions in the administration as the state prepares to hold the nation’s first Democratic presidential nominating contest of 2024.
On Sunday, the Charleston Democrat told The Associated Press that he would step down from the Senate later this year to focus on his role on the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations.
Last week, the White House announced that Kimpson was one of 14 appointees to the entity that advises the U.S. Trade Representative on overall trade policy strategy.
“Charleston is the entry and exit point for a significant amount of goods and products from American and foreign countries,” Kimpson told AP.
Noting that his district is home to the Port of Charleston, as well as aerospace manufacturer Boeing, Co., Kimpson added that, among the other appointees, he “will have a unique voice on this august list of CEOs, business leaders and union presidents.”
Kimpson’s departure from the state Senate was first reported by The Post & Courier of Charleston.
Kimpson, 53, has represented the 42nd District since winning a special election in 2013. As a Black leader in South Carolina’s Senate, Kimpson has been at the forefront of a number of debates, including the 2015 effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds following the massacre of nine Black parishioners at Mother Emanuel AME, a church in his district.
Also that year, he made a successful push to require South Carolina law officers to wear body cameras following the shooting death of a Black South Carolina driver by a white North Charleston police officer.
A special election will be scheduled to fill the remainder of Kimpson’s four-year term, which runs through 2024. South Carolina’s legislative session ends in May, and Kimpson said he had spoken with Senate leadership about coordinating his official last day on the job, saying that he wanted to continue shepherding debates on parts the state budget.
Making several White House visits since Biden took office, Kimpson spoke at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, listed as one of the party’s “rising stars.”
Kimpson is the latest notable South Carolina Democrat to take a job with Biden, whose 2020 primary win in the state helped him cement that year’s Democratic nomination. Last month, former Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin was announced as the new director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, taking over from former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
In 2021, Biden named Jennifer Clyburn Reed as federal co-chair of the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission, aimed at addressing poverty in the Southeast. Reed is a daughter of Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, a top Biden ally whose endorsement ahead of the 2020 primary helped boost Biden’s campaign in the state.
Biden has yet to formally announce an expected reelection bid for 2024. National Democrats recently announced that South Carolina would hold the party’s first presidential nominating contest for that cycle.
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