Kamala Harris snapped up another hotly pursued campaign operative this week, CNN has learned, hiring Jalisa Washington-Price to serve as her South Carolina state director and her national deputy political director.
Washington-Price's next move became a subject of intense fascination in DC after she abruptly left her job as chief of staff at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in late January after just two months on the job.
With her deep South Carolina roots and extensive experience organizing Democratic voters at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and on the Hillary Clinton campaign, sources told CNN she had been fielding calls from multiple presidential campaigns that were clamoring to hire her.
Now that Washington-Price, who grew up in the Lower Richland area outside Columbia and attended the University of South Carolina, has signed on with Harris, she will be based in South Carolina to help organize the campaign in that pivotal state, according to two sources with knowledge of the hire. But she will also advise and direct national political efforts for the campaign.
Before serving as chief of staff at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, she was national director of the committee's Office of Diversity and helped spearhead the committee's minority voter engagement strategy.
She was South Carolina political director for Clinton, who won the state's primary with nearly 74% of the vote in 2016. She was also Clinton's regional political director and the Ohio women's vote director for that campaign.
With Harris, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and possibly former Vice President Joe Biden all vying for the Democratic nomination, South Carolina could play an outsized role in helping to select the nominee. The focus on getting an early organization built out in the first-in-the-South primary state has touched off a fierce competition for talent, influencers and endorsers.
Earlier this week, Booker announced two top hires from South Carolina:
- Christale Spain, the Black Women's Caucus chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, will lead the Booker campaign's South Carolina efforts as state director.
- Clay Middleton, a longtime aide to Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina who was Clinton's 2016 South Carolina state director, signed on as a senior political adviser for Cory 2020, the campaign announced Monday.