COLUMBIA, S.C. — Joe Biden has said it'll be at least January before he decides whether to enter the 2020 presidential race, but the former vice president is continuing to keep his name prominent in early voting states like South Carolina as voters there go to the midterm polls.

On Monday, the Democratic nominee seeking to become South Carolina's state treasurer announced backing from Biden. In a news release, Biden called small business owner Rosalyn Glenn "the real deal."

Biden has used the phrase in other states to characterize candidates who have his backing. In Arizona earlier this year, Biden called attorney general candidate January Contreras - a former Obama administration official - "the real deal" in a statement provided to the Arizona Republic. In May, Biden used the same language to refer to U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Florida while stumping on behalf of Murphy's U.S. Senate bid.

This is at least the fourth South Carolina race this year into which Biden has waded, although he's had public affiliations with the other two candidates for years. Biden voiced support earlier this year for the state Senate bid of Columbia attorney Dick Harpootlian, a longtime political ally who unsuccessfully tried to persuade Biden to enter the 2016 presidential race.

Biden, 75, has also announced support for Democratic gubernatorial nominee James Smith, for whom he'll help raise funds in Charleston later this month. He's also backing Joe Cunningham in South Carolina's 1st Congressional District.

Glenn's campaign didn't immediately return a message seeking information on her ties to the former vice president.

Biden's continuing political activity in South Carolina keeps him visible in this early-voting state, where other possible 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are also making the rounds. Later this month, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker is set to headline a Democratic fundraiser in Orangeburg that will include many of the state's most prominent black leaders and activists.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has made several recent trips to the state, including a keynote appearance at the Charleston County Democratic Party's Blue Jam.

Rob Godfrey, who was a longtime adviser to former Gov. Nikki Haley and worked with the South Carolina Republican Party during the 2008 cycle, said the lower-tier endorsement primarily serves as a way for Biden to keep his identity alive as activists gear up for the next round of presidential campaigning but potentially cheapens the value of his backing, overall.

"This endorsement means more for Joe Biden and Joe Biden's political future in South Carolina than it does for the candidate for treasurer," Godfrey said. "When someone comes in and endorses an entire slate of candidates, it looks as though that person is looking out for himself rather than looking out for the people he's endorsed."

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