COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina State Senator Mia McLeod says she's leaving the state Democratic Party, stating it no longer espouses her values.
McLeod sent a statement out to supporters Tuesday morning confirming her decision, just hours before 2023 legislative session was set to begin at the South Carolina State House.
McLeod, who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor just last year, said she had a chance to join 20 other Black female legislators from across the country for a trip to Israel last fall. She called the experience "life-changing" and said it led to a change in thought.
"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.
"And if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for me."
McLeod took office in the State House of Representatives in 2011 and became a state senator in 2017. She represents a district that mainly includes northern Richland County but also incorporates parts of Kershaw County.
She became the first Black woman to run for governor in state history but lost in the primary to Joe Cunningham. Cunningham would go on to lose to incumbent Republican Gov. Henry McMaster by 17 percentage points.
McLeod said that she's had to fight Republicans and Democrats over the last 12 years to help her own people, which she defines as people of all races, genders, faiths, and political ideologies.
She said the Democratic party has not engaged or expanded the electorate, which led to them being soundly defeated in last November's general election. She said the party is the "poster child for what a losing strategy on repeat looks like."
"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…”