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Bernie Sanders speaks to a crowd of over 1,600 at the Royal Family Life Center in North Charleston on Thursday, March 14, 2019. Lauren Petracca/Staff

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Who is feeling the Bern? In North Charleston, it was a mostly-white crowd

The doors for the Bernie Sanders rally in North Charleston opened at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, but 19-year-old John Koslosky was waiting outside at 4 p.m.

He wasn't old enough to vote in the 2016 presidential election, but there he was: Standing in the very front row, just feet away from the podium where Sanders would be speaking, and wearing a blue Bernie 2016 T-shirt.

"He's my guy," Koslosky said, leaning on the railing and sharing that he'd driven nearly two hours from Bluffton to see Sanders speak. "Just listening to everything he was saying, I just knew in some way that it resonated with me."

All told, Koslosky was one of about 1,600 people who showed up to hear the senator from Vermont share his vision for the country in his second presidential bid. Koslosky is also white.

Though the event was held in North Charleston, a city where the U.S. Census Bureau estimates African Americans account for roughly 47 percent of the population, the crowd who turned out to "feel the Bern" was overwhelmingly white.


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The clashing optics: The rally held in the gymnasium of a black church began with four gospel songs, a prayer, and near-prophetic praise for Sanders, who was characterized as a "visionary" and a "man with grace in his heart."

The quote: “Our political revolution is the 21st-century version of the Rainbow Coalition," said former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, referencing the Rev. Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, a Chicago-based social change group.

Why it matters: The last time Sanders ran for president here in 2016, Sanders not only struggled in South Carolina, he was pummeled. He failed to win over African American voters against Hillary Clinton during the first-in-the-South primary. Clinton won 73 percent of the approximately 370,000 votes cast, winning every county in South Carolina.

Why it still matters: Black voters are a pivotal voting bloc in the South Carolina presidential Democratic primary, accounting for more than 60 percent of voters.

Read more about Sanders' visit to North Charleston and how he defined justice.

No confidence? Charleston City Council members back colleague for mayor over Tecklenburg

The Charleston mayoral race took a dramatic turn on Wednesday.

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg is up for re-election this year but he already has three challengers and even more detractors on City Council.

The Post and Courier's Robert Behre notes that Councilman Gary White has become the most recent candidate to join the race. And when he announced his bid on Thursday, he was flanked by six current and former council members.

Read more about the political dynamics shaking up a nonpartisan race.

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Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.

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