Democrat Jaime Harrison wants to become South Carolina’s next U.S. senator. It's an ambitious goal, given that South Carolina hasn’t elected a Democrat to statewide office since 2006. Harrison seeks to unseat Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has held the office since 2003 and is one of President Donald Trump’s fiercest supporters in Congress. Though South Carolina is considered solidly Republican, Harrison has already made history. Recently, he raised more than $2.1 million in the third quarter of 2019, the largest amount ever raised in a single quarter by a Democratic U.S. Senate challenger in South Carolina.

In a recent conversation with Blavity Politics, Harrison talked about how he got his start in politics, why it's important for people to vote and how he wants to be remembered. 

“Many folks don’t understand how or why [voting] makes a difference in their lives because they have lost trust in the system, they’ve lost trust in politicians,” Harrison said. “In order to really get people to go out and vote, they have to see that it makes a difference in their lives, and in order to do that, politicians have to rebuild trust between those people and themselves.” 

Harrison became involved in politics in the 1990s as a teenager when he volunteered with the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign. He credits Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the first black person to be elected to Congress since Reconstruction, for giving him his first job in Washington. Harrison served as an intern in Clyburn’s office then went on to work with Clyburn in various positions in the House of Representatives. He was elected Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party in 2013 and ran for Democratic National Committee Chair in 2016. 

Though beating Graham is a central message in his campaign, Harrison ultimately believes that Democrats win best when they give people something to be hopeful and excited about.

In an interview last month with BuzzFeed News, Harrison explained, “The problem is that so many people in South Carolina have lost all sense of hope and given up on the American dream. What I want to do is give people in South Carolina hope again.”

With the election more than a year away, Harrison’s recent fundraising records give his campaign a reason to be hopeful. And a recent poll commissioned by Collective PAC has him trailing behind Graham by only seven percentage points. Some political scientists argue that it’s too early to predict the outcome of the race, but public opinion toward Graham could be shifting. Still, Harrison is focused on serving others and improving the lives of South Carolinians. As he told Blavity Politics, “The thing I want to be remembered for is making a difference.” 

Watch the full video below to learn more about Harrison and his journey through politics.