Sell­ers launches non­profit. Is a run for of­fice on hori­zon?

The State - - Local - BY MAAYAN SCHECHTER [email protected]­tate.com

For­mer state Rep. Bakari Sell­ers never has dodged spec­u­la­tion he may run for higher po­lit­i­cal of­fice one day. And a new ven­ture an­nounced Thurs­day by the Demo­crat and Den­mark na­tive ap­pears, in part, to lay ground­work for when that in­evitable hap­pens.

Sell­ers launched the Op­por­tu­nity Project on Thurs­day. He said the non­profit will help fill gaps in re­sources in some of the Pal­metto State’s low­in­come, strug­gling com­mu­ni­ties, pro­vid­ing sup­port in ed­u­ca­tion, health care and tech­nol­ogy.

The 34-year-old Sell­ers will head the group, sup­ported by four S.C.-based board mem­bers.

Sell­ers, a CNN con­trib- utor and at­tor­ney at Columbia’s Strom Law Firm, said he al­ready has put about $20,000 of his own money into the group.

“With my plat­form and the op­por­tu­nity I have to speak to a na­tional and global au­di­ence; I wanted to do some­thing where I could bring re­sources into ar­eas, like the ‘Cor­ri­dor of Shame,’ ” which have been ig­nored by the fed­eral and state gov­ern­ments, said Sell­ers. “This is some­thing I needed to do for a long time.”

In re­cent weeks, Sell­ers also has made noise out of his home county, fil­ing suit chal­leng­ing Den­mark’s water qual­ity.

(Sell­ers said Thurs­day his le­gal res­i­dence is in Den­mark, but he is look- ing at mov­ing to Columbia.)

Sell­ers said Thurs­day it is a fair assess­ment that his new or­ga­ni­za­tion is a sign of things to come in the next elec­tion cy­cle.

Sell­ers has been men­tioned as a po­ten­tial Demo­cratic can­di­date for gov­er­nor in 2022. He ran un­suc­cess­fully for lieu­tenant gov­er­nor in 2014.

Last year, Sell­ers also told The State he will be ready to run for of­fice when U.S. Rep. Jim Cly­burn re­tires from his 6th Dis­trict con­gres­sional seat.

That could be far off — at least un­til Repub­li­cans re­gain a ma­jor­ity in the U.S. House. Cly­burn, a Columbia Demo­crat, last month was elected House ma­jor­ity whip, the third-rank­ing post in that body. That po­si­tion be­comes ef­fec­tive in Jan­uary when Democrats take con­trol of the U.S. House.

“Do­ing good work and mak­ing sure you have a foot­print in your home — I don’t see any­thing wrong (with) that,” Sell­ers said Thurs­day. “I want to be an ex­am­ple and show that you don’t have to be con­fined to your zip code. You can dream big and be from Den­mark.”

‘‘

I HAVE TO SPEAK TO A NA­TIONAL AND GLOBAL AU­DI­ENCE; I WANTED TO DO SOME­THING WHERE I COULD BRING RE­SOURCES INTO AR­EAS, LIKE THE ‘COR­RI­DOR OF SHAME.’ THIS IS SOME­THING I NEEDED TO DO FOR A LONG TIME. For­mer state Rep. Bakari Sell­ers

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE AP

For­mer state Rep. Bakari Sell­ers ap­pears to be lay­ing the ground­work for a run for higher po­lit­i­cal of­fice.

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