Dorchester Democrats oyster roast draws crowd with big party names

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, visits with Joe Cunningham, D-South Carolina, Saturday at the Summerville Country Club during a Dorchester County Democratic Party oyster roast.

Nearly 300 Democrats from surrounding counties gathered at the Summerville Country Club Saturday to hear party representatives and 2020 Presidential candidates.

Each speaker touched upon themes ranging from the importance of uniting America and gun control to the 2020 election cycle and increasing citizen engagement.

U.S. Representatives Joe Cunningham and Jim Clyburn were both key players in the U.S. House of Representatives passage of House Bills H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112 for gun control.

H.R. 8 was to do with bipartisan background checks and passed on Feb. 27. A day later, H.R. 1112 passed, and that bill would close the “Charleston loophole” by extending the length of FBI background checks for gun purchases.

Cunningham said the passage of this is “significant.” While both bills are now in the Senate, GOP leaders have hinted they will not debate the bill and President Donald Trump has vowed to veto it if it makes it to his desk.

“It is long past time we closed the Charleston loophole and gave law enforcement the time necessary to make sure dangerous people don’t end up with deadly weapons they are prohibited from obtaining,” Cunningham said.

Debate around gun reform hit a peak after the Parkland, Florida, mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School where 17 were killed. Business Insider previously reported there were a total of 307 mass shootings in 2018 alone. Rep. Jim Clyburn said he knew all nine victims of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston in 2015. Before the vote, he urged lawmakers to “think of those poor souls” killed there.

“Are they more valuable than the inconvenience a gun purchaser may have by having to wait 10 rather than three days?” Clyburn said.

Clyburn also touched upon the importance of building a national cultural corridor as South Carolina has two national parks which taps into increased tourism for the state.

“In 1992, when I was first elected, textiles and tobacco were the two top industries here. Now, we’ve traded that in for transportation and tourism,” Clyburn said. He told the crowd he re-read Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. “America’s greatness is not because it’s more enlightened but it’s ability to be able to repair its faults,” Clyburn noted saying that is what America was trying to do with such issues as the Brown vs. Board of Education case and the Affordable Care Act, and so forth.

Clyburn drew big applause when he said, “America is already great. The challenge is that we need to apply it fairly and equitably to all of its citizens,” he said, no matter if it is to do with race, rights for women, and so forth.

Possible 2020 Presidential candidate Sherrod Brown of Ohio also addressed the crowd saying he will make decide whether to run within the next month. His visit to Summerville represents the fourth town on his “Dignity of Work” tour. Brown was thanked for his work on gaining back pay for federal workers by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

Booker, who drew an enthusiastic standing ovation from the crowd, emphasized how he learned the importance of standing up for others.

“My dad said, ‘people will try to beat you down, but you’ve got to stand up for people,’” Booker said. Cory asked, “Where are we now?” in terms of the nation’s Declaration of Independence.

“There is a whole lot of common pain in this country, but we have lost our common purpose,” Booker said. He authored a book, United, and added, “It cannot be about one person and one office (referring to President Trump). We need a revival of civic grace and courageous empathy. We need to put some more ‘indivisible’ in this country,” in terms of fighting for real justice, he said.

Booker went on to the Brown Chapel AME in Selma, Alabama on Sunday, days before the 54th Anniversary of the 3/7/65 “Bloody Sunday” where peaceful demonstrators, including U.S. Representative John Lewis of Georgia whom Booker says he highly regards, were beaten back by Alabama state troopers as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge. That moment galvanized support for the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year.

Booker said U.S. Rep. John Lewis knew that the opposition of justice is apathy.

“But John Lewis said, ‘I am going to do the best I can with what I have,’” Booker said, ending his remarks by saying “We are in a moral moment now, but do we have the collective will?”

Summerville resident, Jeff Cassens, says he is excited about the possibilities for South Carolina for the Democratic Party but admitted it is a little early to pick a favorite 2020 Presidential candidate from the huge field.

“I like Kamala Harris as she has a really good background and I feel she can do well in the debates. However, Cory Booker is very good, too,” Cassens said, adding he sees a little bit of President Barack Obama in Booker in terms of bringing people together.

S.C. Democratic Party Executive Director Trav Robertson said “this is exciting for Dorchester County” in terms of the huge attendance and increased activism under Dorchester County Democratic Party Chair Sean Wilson’s leadership.

Wilson said the Dorchester County Democratic Party is preparing for 2020.

“We have some enthusiastic Democrats and are looking forward to winning some seats for Dorchester County,” Wilson said.

The field of 2020 Presidential candidates is large including the follwoing: Pres. Donald Trump (R-FL); Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT); Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN); Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY); Rep. John Delaney (D-MD); Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI); Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ); Sen. (D-HI); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Marianne Williamson; Pete Buttigieg (D-Mayor of So. Bend, IN); Andrew Yang (D-an entrepreneur from NY). Others considering a run are former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE); former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-NY); Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH); former Secretary of Housing & Urban Development Julian Castro; Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX); and Rep. Eric Stalwell (D-CA). Several Republican names being discussed as possible candidates include Vice Pres. Mike Pence; Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; former Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, amongst others. Source:,_2020