Two weeks ago, when I wrote that Jaime Harrison was poised to be the next chair of the Democratic National Committee, there were two main responses: excitement from his supporters and eye-rolling “Looks like he’s failing upward” tweets from his detractors. Harrison became a nationally known Democrat over the course of his year-long run against Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He raised the most money of any Senate candidate in history, but, come November 3, he lost his race by more than 10 points—the biggest margin of defeat for any of the challengers Democrats had real hopes for this year.
Now, in addition to hoping that President-elect Joe Biden asks him to be DNC chair, Harrison has formed what he’s calling the Dirt Road PAC, inspired by a man he met early on in his campaign whom he later immortalized in a viral ad. In the spot, Harrison tells voters that the man told him he wasn’t engaged in politics, because politics had never done as much as gotten him a paved road to his house. The PAC is also an opportunity to prove that he can do more beyond his own campaign, especially with Senate runoffs in neighboring Georgia coming up in January. Speaking by phone from his home in Columbia, South Carolina, on Monday, Harrison explained why he thinks the country needs another PAC, what he makes of Graham’s attempts to question other states’ vote counts, and whether he’s ready to get the big call from Biden. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.