Charleston lawyer Mullins McLeod announced Wednesday he is running for governor next year because he wants to create jobs and unlock the potential of the state's voters.
"I wouldn't get in this race if I didn't think I could win," he said. "There are a lot of things that need to change in Columbia. For one, we've got to change the way government is run. We have to get to a point where we're working on behalf of people all day every day and actually producing results: jobs, quality education, affordable health care."
Citing the state's unemployment rate, the nation's second-highest, McLeod said Gov. Mark Sanford's opposition to using $700 million in stimulus money to support schools jeopardizes teachers' and students' ability to reach their full potential. "Ideology cannot trump common sense," he said.
McLeod jumped into the race three days before state Democrats will meet in Columbia for their annual convention, and he joins a Democratic field that is increasingly crowded.
McLeod sent a letter to delegates Wednesday announcing his bid, saying the state's current leaders have "proven themselves powerless in the face of record unemployment ... (It is) abundantly clear that South Carolina needs a new direction."
Democratic state Sens. Vincent Sheheen of Camden and Robert Ford of Charleston also are in the race, as is the Rev. Amos Elliott of Charleston.
McLeod, 37, grew up in Walterboro but has lived in Charleston since 1998. He graduated from Wofford College and the University of South Carolina's School of Law. He is the son of the late W. Mullins McLeod, city prosecutor and former district administrator for U.S. Rep. Mendel J. Davis. The elder McLeod was the Democratic candidate in 1982 for the 1st Congressional District seat.
McLeod said he is running to win the governorship and is not deterred by the state's GOP leanings. "I think that South Carolina voters have consistently shown that they will look at each individual race," he said.
"Unfortunately, some of our statewide Democratic candidates in the past have not run at the Republicans. They've tried to imitate the Republicans, and I think that's why we lost. I'm going to run a modern, 21st century campaign that focuses on the issues that matter."
The GOP field is growing, too. Third Congressional District Rep. Gresham Barrett and Furman University political scientist Brent Nelsen are in. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer and Attorney General Henry McMaster plan to announce later.