Beto and Steve Benjamin

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, left, has lunch with Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke at Drake's Duck-In on Friday, March 22, 2019. One of Benjamin's top aides at the City of Columbia, Lauren Harper, has been announced as the state director of O'Rourke's campaign.

Lauren Harper, who has spent the last couple years as an adviser to Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, has been tapped to be the state director of former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke's presidential campaign in South Carolina.

According to McClatchy's Emma Dumain, O'Rourke also announced that Tyler Jones, the Charleston political consultant who runs SPEAK Strategic and helped captain Democrat Joe Cunningham's stunning 2018 U.S. House victory in the First District, also is joining O'Rourke's South Carolina effort as a senior adviser.

Jones was a leader of the Draft Beto movement in South Carolina before O'Rourke formally joined the presidential race.

“From Lauren’s work lifting up the voices of Columbia’s families at City Hall and in the South Carolina State House to Tyler’s pivotal role in ushering in a new era of representation for residents of the 1st Congressional District, both of these dedicated leaders perfectly embody our campaign’s core value of showing up for and listening to the people,” said O’Rourke in a statement.

Harper, an African-American woman and a University of South Carolina alum, has been a key communications figure in Benjamin's office at the city.

Benjamin and Harper tell Free Times that this will be her last week working in the mayor's office.

"Lauren is a star and she made our mayor's office so much stronger," Benjamin says. "She's a hardworking woman of faith who brings 150 percent effort to everything she touches. Her policy leadership has been broad and deep. As we addressed food insecurity, youth leadership development, fighting income volatility and the need for affordable housing, Lauren has been leading the way."

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