South Carolina State Sen. Mia McLeod launched a gubernatorial campaign this week, thus becoming the first-ever Black woman to run for governor.
“I want to be the person that is running not because I’m a woman, and not because I’m Black, but because I am so connected to and so much like the people that I represent,” McLeod told the Associated Press prior to her Thursday campaign launch for 2022. “It’s a tremendous responsibility, but it’s one that I’m excited about.”
The Democratic official is also hoping to end a 15-year period in South Carolina where Democrats have been shut out of elected offices.
Thank you, South Carolina, for such a warm welcome today, as we kicked off our campaign for Governor! I'm so excited to have your love and support on this journey! Donate today and become a founding donor: https://t.co/YkRpzuGt4K pic.twitter.com/GZvU5oZto0
— Mia McLeod (@MiaforSC) June 4, 2021
While on a tour of her hometown of Bennettsville, about 100 miles away from the state capital, McLeod explained that the area’s dilapidated schools and failing health care system are her top campaign priorities.
“I believe rural counties like mine are a microcosm for what’s happening statewide, when it comes to our rural communities that have been left behind,” the 52-year-old said.
McLeod has been critical of state Republicans she says have failed the state, referencing Gov. Henry McMaster.
McMaster controversially signed into law last month a bill that forces death row inmates to choose between the electric chair or a newly formed firing squad in hopes the state can reactivate executions after an involuntary 10-year pause due to a lack of lethal injection chemicals, CountOn News 2 reports.
The Bennettsville native was elected to the House in 2010 and later elected to the Senate in 2016. Prior to becoming a South Carolina lawmaker, she worked as a communications consultant and served in a number of state government jobs, according to the AP.
Recently, the politician made waves in the Senate. She condemned Republican leaders’ decision to host in-person sessions as “tone-deaf” and “deadly” amid a pandemic, AP reports. Amid the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, McLeod opted not to return to meetings in the capital, citing health concerns related to her battle with sickle cell anemia.
Earlier this year, she lambasted Texas’ heartbeat bill, which was signed into law in May and bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat is discovered. She also blasted Republicans for their opposition on exceptions for rape victims, revealing that she is a sexual assault survivor, according to WIS News 10. The bill was approved but is currently being held up in litigation.
“I am a fierce advocate who is unafraid to fight for the people and advocate for the people in the state,” McLeod said. “Even if I have to fight alone, and even when I have to fight members of my own party, I’ve shown that I have the courage to lead.”
Former U.S. Representative Joe Cunningham, a Democrat, announced an upcoming run for governor last summer. He congratulated McLeod in joining the race, acknowledging the historic nature of her campaign.
“I want to welcome Senator Mia McLeod to the race for Governor and congratulate her on the historical significance of her campaign. 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,” he said, according to ABC Columbia.
The essence of her groundbreaking campaign is to relate to all voters, regardless of race, on a more personal level, McLeod says.
“I never ask anybody, when they email me for help or call me for help, whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican. I know what connects with everyday people, because I am everyday people,” she said.