Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will make his first foray into the Palmetto State as a potential 2020 presidential contender next week, addressing a South Carolina Democratic Party fundraiser and gathering a group of mayors from across the country to discuss jobs, health care and infrastructure.
Garcetti is traveling to the state for a two-day conference hosted by Accelerator for America, the non-profit group that he launched last year to develop policy with other mayors, business leaders and philanthropists. Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin is hosting the group's second meeting.
"Americans need help as they confront rising health care premiums, debt and a changing economy, but we can't count on Washington to get anything done," Garcetti said in a statement next week's meeting.
"Mayors don't debate -- we act, and in partnership with business and non-profit leaders, we are taking the lead and creating jobs in our neighborhoods, all across the nation," he said.
Garcetti and Benjamin will address the private South Carolina Democratic Party fundraiser on Wednesday night, according to sources with knowledge of the event. They are also expected to field questions from party activists at a town hall-style event later that evening.
The Los Angeles mayor has acknowledged that he is thinking about a run for the White House, though he insists he is focused on his current job overseeing the massive expansion of LA's public transportation system.
His motto, as he told David Axelrod on "The Axe Files," is "you better just do good work and stop thinking about your own future, and the next step will take care of itself."
While some have questioned whether a mayor could make the leap to the White House, Garcetti often notes that Los Angeles has a larger population than that of 23 states.
He has also burnished his national profile by speaking out forcefully on national issues like immigration, advocating on behalf of the young undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children.
Garcetti has taken a more visible role by helping fellow Democrats raise money around the country. He campaigned on behalf of Manchester mayoral candidate Joyce Craig in New Hampshire last summer, and spoke at the Democratic Party convention in Wisconsin in June.
The Accelerator for America gathering next week will also give several other high-profile mayors a platform to speak to voters in South Carolina, an early contest state that will play a critical role in selecting the next presidential nominee for the Democratic Party.