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Wednesday February 26th, 2020 4:45AM

Buttigieg lands black South Carolina lawmaker's endorsement

By The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg is picking up his first endorsement among South Carolina’s black lawmakers as attention in the early voting contest turns toward more diverse states.

Buttigieg‘s campaign announced Wednesday that the former South Bend, Indiana, mayor would be receiving backing from state Rep. JA Moore, a Democrat from Charleston.

Moore is a first-term lawmaker who initially backed California Sen. Kamala Harris last year, frequently appearing on cable networks to advocate for her candidacy. On Wednesday, Moore called Buttigieg the best remaining candidate suited to defeat President Donald Trump in November's general election, citing strong performances in last week's Iowa caucuses and Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary.

“Electability is top of mind for every South Carolina voter,” Moore said. “If anyone had doubts, Pete Buttigieg has proven he's the only viable candidate to build a cross racial, rural, urban and suburban coalition to win in November.”

Moore introduced Buttigieg last month during a campaign event in Moncks Corner, where Buttigieg sat down with radio host Charlamagne tha God and discussed economic issues of importance in the black community. Buttigieg has been struggling to gain traction among black voters in South Carolina, where they comprise the majority of the Democratic primary electorate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has traditionally topped surveys in the state, continuing to express confidence in a strong performance in this month’s primary despite opening struggles in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Other candidates, including Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and California businessman Tom Steyer, have also redoubled efforts to compete for the attention of South Carolina voters, particularly in the black community.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.

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Catch up on the 2020 election campaign with AP experts on our weekly politics podcast, “Ground Game.”

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