FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence Mayor Stephen J. Wukela has endorsed 2020 presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

The Sanders campaign announced the endorsement Wednesday afternoon.

"This election is about a one simple question: What candidate is out there fighting every day for working families? Time and again, the answer to that question is always Senator Bernie Sanders,” Wukela said in a news release Wednesday. “That’s why he’s winning in battleground states like Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan, and that’s why he’ll win in South Carolina.

"We don’t need a plan to appease insurance companies; we need Medicare for All. We don’t need to raise teacher salaries, we need to double them. We need real change. We need a leader to finish the work FDR started. We need Bernie Sanders."

This is a big win for the campaign, Bernie 2020 S.C. State Director Kwadjo Campbell said.

“Mayor Wukela is a rising star not just in the Pee Dee, but across the state," Campbell said. "He has proven repeatedly that an unapologetic progressive can win in South Carolina, and we’re very excited to have his support.”

With more than seven months before South Carolina’s “First in the South” primary, Wukela is the latest leader in the state who has publicly endorsed Sanders and his campaign.

Locally, S.C. Reps. Terry Alexander and Cezar McKnight have endorsed Sanders.

The endorsement comes days after it was announced that Bernie 2020 national co-chair Sen. Nina Turner will make an appearance in Florence.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, Turner will be in Florence to host a Bernie Block Party at New Ebenezer Baptist Church (312 S. Ravenel St. Florence, SC). Sen. Turner will continue her Pee Dee Tour, hosting a Bernie Block Party at 4 p.m. Sunday at Chesterfield Missionary Baptist Church (8591 S.C. 90. Longs).

Wukela’s brother, Michael, a political consultant, works for the Sanders campaign.

Wukela defeated 13-year incumbent Mayor Frank Willis by one vote to become Florence mayor in 2008. He was re-elected in 2012 and 2016.

Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democratic Party, is the junior senator from Vermont. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 with over 65 percent of the vote. Sanders was re-elected in 2012 and 2018. Prior to running for Senate, Sanders served as the representative for Vermont’s seat in the House of Representatives beginning in 1990. He served as mayor of Vermont’s largest city, Burlington, for three terms in the 1980s.

A Brooklyn native, Sanders is a graduate of the University of Chicago. He settled in Vermont in the 1960s and ran several third-party campaigns from then until his election as mayor of Burlington Vermont.

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