Hopkins representative endorses Bernie Sanders for president

Rep. Joe Neal, D-Hopkins, publicly endorsed U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for president on Tuesday at the South Carolina Statehouse.

COLUMBIA — A Hopkins lawmaker is the second state representative to formally endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders for president in the last two weeks. Rep. Joe Neal said Tuesday that Sanders’ platform of working to help the middle class was the chief reason behind his choice to support the Vermont senator.

“He is the candidate that is speaking to the need and situation that confronts middle America today,” he said. “It is because of his position on helping the middle class with education and health care, Social Security, those issues that are so important to every day working people in this country.”

The number of state lawmakers endorsing Sanders has grown to five. Last week, Rep. Justin Bamberg switched his endorsement from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to Sanders.

Neal’s endorsement comes a day after Sanders fell just short of winning the Iowa caucus. Sanders got 49.6 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 49.9 percent. Neal represents parts of Richland and Sumter counties.

“What Sen. Sanders has as a challenge is introducing himself to the African-American community and that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing today,” he said.

Reach Maya T. Prabhu at 843-509-8933.