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Democratic Cookoff Steyer (copy)

Tom Steyer meets Orangeburg Mayor Pro Tem Liz Zimmerman Keitt at Betty Henderson’s Elected Officials and Candidates Cook-Off in Orangeburg in October.

Two T&D Region Democrats have endorsed 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer.

Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, publicly announced Thursday that he’s backing the hedge fund manager. His endorsement follows that of Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg.

“I put a lot of thought into it, got to know several of the candidates that I was very impressed with. But, at the end of the day, it’s been the ability to get to know Tom on a personal level over the last month and a half and to understand the type of man he is that ultimately led me to him,” Ott stated.

“At the end of the day, I ultimately believe he is the best candidate in the field to win next November in 2020 against Donald Trump,” Ott said.

Ott believes Steyer understands the challenges that rural South Carolinians face.

“He understands the challenges that we face with issues like public education, with issues like broadband connectivity, with infrastructure issues and, at the top of the list, creating jobs that are sustainable for keeping people in our areas,” Ott said.

Ott’s district encompasses rural parts of both Orangeburg and Calhoun counties. Many of his constituents are farmers, and Ott is a farmer himself.

“He understands the plight of our farmers across the country. He understands what the trade wars that Donald Trump has put into place have been doing to our rural communities and our agricultural communities. He knows that those trends have to be reversed. We’ve got to be able to work with other countries to be able to create those avenues of trade so that everyone can prosper,” Ott said.

Ott believes that Steyer is going to be able to appeal to a broad range of voters, which he feels is necessary for the Democratic nominee to be able to win in 2020.

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“I’m going to do everything I can to try to get him elected in the primary, and then I look forward to the type of campaign he’s going to continue to run into next year,” Ott said.

Govan is serving as a senior advisor to Steyer’s campaign.

Govan said he made a gut decision to endorse Steyer even though he has a long-standing relationship with former vice president Joe Biden, who is also a Democratic candidate for president.

“I decided to support Steyer primarily because of what not only he is doing presently, in terms of building infrastructure in with the base, but also building infrastructure and doing some things in the community that has had a direct and positive impact, particularly on the larger constituency that I serve,” Govan said.

Govan also mentioned Steyer’s faith as a determining factor.

“Tom and his wife are both born-again Christians, and they not only talk but they live their faith and that’s why they’re involved with so many of these causes,” Govan said.

Govan said he viewed the opportunity to work for the Steyer campaign as, “an opportunity to become involved in a very significant and high level.”

Govan noted Steyer’s support for developing a high-quality education for children; developing small businesses, particularly in poor and minority communities, and providing an equal opportunity for clean water and air.

“Those are the kind of issues that I think play well with the future generations of America,” Govan sated.

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Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5516

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Staff Writer

Bradley Harris is a Government and Sports Reporter. The Irmo, SC native is a 2018 graduate of Claflin University and recipient of the 2018 South Carolina Press Association Collegiate Journalist of the Year Award.

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