Bernie Sanders is surging in the polls in New Hampshire and gaining ground in Iowa, but he's not stopping there. The Vermont senator's presidential campaign is looking ahead and building an organization in South Carolina, making two hires on Tuesday to add to its Charleston-based team.
Andrew Springer, formerly the senior editor of social media at ABC News, joined Sanders' South Carolina team as the state communications director on Wednesday. And Christale Spain, the deputy executive director for the South Carolina Democratic Party, will start her role as Sander's political outreach director there on Sept. 15th.
Democratic insiders in South Carolina characterize Spain's move as a savvy hire for the Sanders team - in part because of her strong relationships with African American constituency groups in the state, where black voters could make up over half of of the primary electorate.
Hillary Clinton's team has pointed to South Carolina and her support among African-Americans as a bulwark if she stumbles in mostly-white Iowa and New Hampshire. Her husband remains very popular in the state, but she was still clobbered there by Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic primary, thanks to his support in the African-American community. It remains to be seen how much support Sanders would be able to pick up against Clinton.
"In 2008, the turnout for the Democratic primary was 56% non-white voters," said Scott Huffmon, a political scientist at Winthrop University. "If you cannot make strong inroads into the African American community, you cannot win."
Sanders, who hails from Vermont -- a state that is 95% white -- returns to South Carolina on September 12th. He plans to host three town halls with civil rights activist and professor Cornel West, a longtime Sanders supporter.
"It's a swing that will get him a lot of press with Democratic voters -- particularly with voters within the African American community," said Brady Quirk Garvan, Chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party. "West is a household name, so it'll be great to have him out on the stump."