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(CNN) —  

Sen. Cory Booker has picked up an early endorsement in the key primary state of South Carolina, an early indicator of his appeal and organizing strength in the key first-in-the-South primary state.

Brady Quirk-Garvan, chairman of the Charleston County Democratic Party for the past five years, will step down from his post and endorse the New Jersey Democrat on Thursday, he told CNN, with plans to act as a surrogate for Booker in South Carolina. Booker’s campaign says he is the first South Carolina Democratic official to endorse in the primary.

“Having met and spent time with several other candidates in the field, I am confident that Sen. Booker will inspire Americans from across the spectrum to remember that we are a stronger and better nation when we are looking out for one another,” Quirk-Garvan said. “I did not take this endorsement lightly, nor was it an easy decision to step down as party chair. But I believe in my soul that Cory is the right leader in this critical time.”

He is stepping down from his post because he “felt it would be inappropriate to stay on as chair” as a committed Booker supporter and active surrogate, he said.

Quirk-Garvan emceed a campaign event last month for Sen. Kamala Harris of California in North Charleston, and last weekend hosted a Booker event. That visit by Booker “solidified it for me,” Quirk-Garvan said.

The announcement is significant for Booker not only because it marks the first endorsement out of South Carolina this cycle. but it could also give Booker an edge in an important, voter-rich area of the state. Charleston is the most populous city in South Carolina, while Charleston County is the third most populous county in the state.

South Carolina is poised to play an influential, if not decisive, role in the Democratic primary, and it will be the first state on the primary calendar with African-American voters comprising a large share of the electorate.

Booker and Harris in particular have been aggressively cultivating networks in and making frequent visits to the Palmetto State. But former Vice President Joe Biden, who is nearing a decision about running for president, also has strong ties there, cultivated over decades in public service.

“Everyone has positive things to say about him, as would I. I think he’s a great guy,” Quirk-Garvan said of Biden. But, he added, “I think people are looking for someone with more youthful vigor.”

Quirk-Garvan also pointed to Biden’s warm relationships with many Republicans, which Biden often touts, as another potential downside.

“I think people are looking for someone who’s going to be a little more of a strong Democrat,” he said.