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Backing Bernie's Boldness, South Carolina Lawmaker Flips on Clinton

Hillary Clinton represents 'status quo,' says Justin Bamberg, who is representing the family of Walter Scott, a black man shot and killed last year by a police officer

Democratic State Representative Justin T. Bamberg is representing the family of Walter Scott, a black man shot and killed last year by a police officer. (Photo: AP)

In what political observers are describing as a "big get" for the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, a prominent South Carolina lawmaker and lawyer said Monday he is switching his support from Hillary Clinton and endorsing her chief rival, the senator from Vermont.

Democratic State Representative Justin T. Bamberg, who is representing the family of Walter Scott, a black man shot and killed last year by a police officer, told the New York Times he decided to support Sanders after the two men spoke for 20 minutes last week on Martin Luther King Day about Scott's death.

"What I got from him was not a presidential candidate talking to a state representative, or an old white man talking to a young black guy," Bamberg said. "What I got from him was a man talking to a man about things that they are passionate about, and that was the tipping point for me."

"Hillary Clinton is more a representation of the status quo when I think about politics or about what it means to be a Democrat," added Bamberg, who initially endorsed Clinton in December. "Bernie Sanders on the other hand is bold. He doesn’t think like everyone else. He is not afraid to call things as they are."

The Times notes that the endorsement "could help Mr. Sanders as he tries to win more support from black voters — especially in South Carolina — in the series of southern states that hold contests after Iowa and New Hampshire, where he is well positioned."

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, while Sanders is either closing the gap or running ahead of Clinton in both national polls as well as key states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, surveys of African Americans in South Carolina and elsewhere have consistently favored the former Secretary of State.

But Bamberg downplayed Clinton's Southern bulwark, saying: "You are starting to see cracks in that firewall."

The Hill reports that in a conference call held by the Sanders campaign, "Bamberg said his decision was not about anything Clinton did wrong, but about how Sanders won him over once he gave him a 'fair shake'."

"People have said Bernie’s ideas are unachievable and impossible," Bamberg said. "We live on the greatest country on earth...we put a man on the moon—don’t tell me that we can not provide Americans the right to healthcare because that right is a matter of life and death for many Americans."

As CNN points out, "the Sanders campaign has had some success poaching Clinton supporters—former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner has become one of the most vociferous supporters of Sanders since breaking away from Clinton in November."

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