State Sen. Mia McLeod addresses delegates at South Carolina’s Democratic Party convention on June 11, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (Meg Kinnard / AP Photo)
Another prominent Democrat has said goodbye to the Democratic Party.
South Carolina state Sen. Mia McLeod, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year, said that she was leaving the party “because it no longer espouses the values my constituents and I hold dear.”
In an email to supporters Tuesday morning, McLeod said she made the decision after “seven months of prayer and reflection,” presumably since coming in second in the gubernatorial primary on June 14. She had been the first black woman to run for governor of the state, according to The Columbia State.
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McLeod said she had been taught by her parents to support those whose “visions and values” most closely matched her own, and that that mindset had often forced her to work against the Democratic Party.
“[I]t hurts to admit how often I’ve had to fight my own party, just to help my own people,” she wrote.
“By not engaging, enlightening or expanding the electorate … refusing to publicize the June Primary and getting a historical top of the ticket ‘shellacking’ on November 8, the party ensured a republican super-majority and the losses of eight black legislators in the SC House, five of whom were black women,” she explained. “Yet, a recent SCDP fundraising email acknowledges, ‘Black voters are the backbone of our party …’ which makes me cringe because I’ve experienced first-hand how the party treats black voters and black women who run statewide.”
McLeod’s announcement did not say whether she would seek to join the Republicans or affiliate herself with a third party, but the final paragraph of her email may provide a hint regarding her intention.
“This is a new year,” she wrote. “It’s time for a new direction. So, with unprecedented clarity and perspective, I’ll continue to move forward in faith … boldly, fearlessly and yes … independently — always eager to work with any person or party that prioritizes our people … ever mindful of who and whose I am and why God has placed me in this space, ‘for such a time as this …’” (emphasis original).
The bold type McLeod used to emphasize “independently” may suggest that she plans to remain politically unaffiliated — at least for now.
Former U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard similarly announced that she was leaving the Democratic Party in October. Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema followed suit two months later. Neither woman is currently affiliated with a political party, though Sinema continues to caucus with the Democrats.
The email McLeod sent to supporters Tuesday appears in its entirety below (with the formatting edited slightly):
New Year, New Direction!
After two long years of campaigning…I took some much-needed time to pray, rest, reflect and recharge. And although I wasn’t the SC Democratic Party’s (SCDP’s) gubernatorial nominee, I’m truly grateful to all of you who supported me…and those of you who didn’t. I mean that sincerely, because I trust God’s Plan for my life.
In September, I was one of twenty black women legislators from across the country who was invited to travel to Israel! It was a life-changing journey and one you’ll hear more about because I’m super-excited to be writing my first book!
After seven months of prayer and reflection, I’ve decided to leave the SC Democratic Party because it no longer espouses the values my constituents and I hold dear. I want you to be the first to know that my decision isn’t meant to disparage anyone who identifies as a SC democrat, but the SCDP’s “party-focused” approach doesn’t work for the people.
My parents taught us to always vote for the person whose vision and values were most aligned with ours. I’ve stayed true to that by working with and supporting honest, compassionate, empathetic servant-leaders of both parties. But, after fighting republicans and democrats for the past twelve years…it hurts to admit how often I’ve had to fight my own party, just to help my own people.
And I’m not just talking about people who look like me. My house and senate districts have consistently been among our state’s most diverse. So, my people are hard-working South Carolinians of all races, genders, ethnicities, generations, faiths, political ideologies and socio-economic backgrounds who believe as I do, that their lives and livelihoods matter…too.
Yes, I’ve run as a Democrat, while serving my constituents with integrity and independence…the latter often putting me at odds with the SCDP establishment. But, working alongside some amazing colleagues, candidates and community members, who genuinely give your all to improve our state, reminds me that like my parents, many of you have sacrificed and worked hard to help build and strengthen the SC Democratic Party.
And sadly, you’re the very people the party seems to have forgotten.
Childhood memories of welcoming Democratic Party and NAACP members into our family’s funeral home for meetings and community events and my Dad serving as Bennettsville’s first black city councilman after Reconstruction, are always with me. Whatever his challenges, the SCDP worked with him…not against him. They were unified by their individual and collective mission to improve the lives of every person they served.
As the first woman to represent House District 79, first woman and African-American to represent Senate District 22 and first black woman to run for governor of SC, my mission is to advance a “people-focused” platform that genuinely improves lives, since I’m now even more enlightened about the true state of our state and why so many of us lack the representation and resources we need to thrive here.
And the more my sons talk about their desire to live anywhere but South Carolina, the more it hurts that our best and brightest continue to leave our state in droves and have for decades.
Meanwhile, the SCDP establishment hasn’t made any significant changes or won a gubernatorial race in 20 years. By not engaging, enlightening or expanding the electorate…refusing to publicize the June Primary and getting a historical top of the ticket “shellacking” on November 8, the party ensured a republican super-majority and the losses of eight black legislators in the SC House, five of whom were black women.
Yet, a recent SCDP fundraising email acknowledges, “Black voters are the backbone of our party…” which makes me cringe because I’ve experienced first-hand how the party treats black voters and black women who run statewide.
If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing year after year, election after election, and expecting a different result, then the SC Democratic Party is the poster child for what a losing strategy on repeat looks like. Even a “first in the nation” presidential primary designation won’t change that.
You deserve a strong voice in your government…one that’s authentic, bold and courageous. That’s what you’ll always have in me. And with so many unprecedented and systemic challenges, none of us can afford to be blinded by party loyalty, silent on critical issues or content with the status quo. Ever.
This is a new year. It’s time for a new direction. So, with unprecedented clarity and perspective, I’ll continue to move forward in faith…boldly, fearlessly and yes…independently — always eager to work with any person or party that prioritizes our people…ever mindful of who and whose I am and why God has placed me in this space, “for such a time as this…”
Such inspiring words. I can completely relate to everything this brave woman says. Of course, I’m not Black, but Jewish people are expected to belong to the Democratic Party – it is unheard of that a Jew would be a Conservative.
But that’s exactly what I am – I am a Constitutional Conservative. And there are more and more Jewish Conservatives every day! Think Mark Levin…….
But I’m a Christian first because Yeshua is my life