Democratic primary for governor becomes more competitive as state lawmakers enter the race

Updated: Jun. 3, 2021 at 9:18 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - State Sen. Mia McLeod, D-Richmond, is now officially in the race for Governor of South Carolina, but before she can seek Gov. McMaster’s seat needs to win the Democratic primary.

McLeod is entering the race as former Lowcountry Rep. Joe Cunningham is in the middle of his tour of all the counties in South Carolina and after Democratic activist, Gary Votour has announced his run for office.

The state senator stood in front of the home of Modjeska Simkins, the late-civil rights activist who McLeod said she used to visit with her father, and said her candidacy will break Democrat’s cycle of losses for statewide office.

“Gubernatorial election after gubernatorial election, South Carolina Democrats have done the same old things the same old ways and gotten our butts kicks,” McLeod said during her announcement,

McLeod’s candidacy alone is historic. According to University of South Carolina professor Bobby Donaldson, no Republican or Democratic Black woman has ever run for Governor in South Carolina.

If she were to win, McLeod would be the first Black female governor in the country and the first Democrat to be in the South Carolina Governor’s mansion since 2003.

McLeod said her approach to the race will be similar to how she has led in the Statehouse: helping everyone who needs it regardless of party or background.

In a statement about McLeod’s candidacy, SC Republican Party Chair Drew McKissick said Democrats are,”wrong on the issues that voters care about—just ask Jamie Harrison how much his double-digit loss cost.”

When asked about Jaime Harrison’s loss against Sen. Lindsey Graham for U.S. Senate after Harrison broke multiple fundraising records, McLeod said Harrison ran a good campaign and laid a strong base for her candidacy.

“When you take the lessons we’ve learned in the past two to four years, it gives us a foundation to build. Anything is possible in this state,” said state Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson. “We have two candidates who bring a heck of a bunch of enthusiasm from different parts of the state.”

Cunningham welcomed McLeod to the race Thursday writing, “Mia brings an important voice to this race and I look forward to spending time with her on the trail as we make our case to voters.”

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