DO PALMETTO STATE DEMOCRATS HAVE AN INTERNAL BATTLE BREWING?
Much has been written – and will continue to be written – about the ongoing implosion of the Republican party. In fact things have gotten so bad even in “bright red” South Carolina that a clique of Democrats is already plotting to overthrow the badly-fractured Palmetto State GOP.
To do so, though, Democrats will have to be united – and if their performance in one of the few competitive State Senate races is any indication, they’re not.
Democratic State Rep. Mia McLeod is the favorite to win next month’s election for S.C. Senate District 22 (map) – although polling from Senate Republicans would suggest the race is much tighter than anyone expected.
A month ago, Republicans touted a poll showing McLeod leading GOP candidate Susan Brill by just three percentage points. Since then, Democrats have countered with their own poll showing McLeod up by eight points over Brill – a left-leaning board member of one of the Midlands largest government-run school districts.
Frankly, the latter number strikes us as more believable.
Brill has run a terrible race from the get-go. Also, this suburban Columbia, S.C. district is likely to see depressed GOP turnout due to the presence of Donald Trump at the top of the Republican ticket (as opposed to other parts of the state where Trump is likely to boost the GOP ticket).
But McLeod has her own problems turning out Democratic voters.
Most significantly, the Democrat whose resignation created this contested election – Joel Lourie – has declined to issue an endorsement in the race. In fact rumors are swirling that Lourie’s network of prominent Midlands Jewish families is actually supporting Brill’s candidacy.
“Joel is definitely behind Brill running,” one source told us.
According to other sources, though, rumors of Lourie’s involvement in the race are overblown. In fact we spoke with several sources close to the outgoing Senator this week – all of whom told us he was staying out of the race out of respect for his Jewish friends.
“He may not be endorsing (Mia) – but he sure as hell isn’t helping Susan,” one of these sources told us. “He’s just not involved either way.”
Still, we’re told the reports about Lourie’s network backing Brill are accurate – which could make this race very close.
Meanwhile, one white Democrat – who has gone on the record backing McLeod – told us in confidence they might not vote for her come Election Day.
“Somedays you get stateswoman Mia, somedays you get #BlackLivesMatter Mia,” the Democrat told us.
This Democratic operative also said that Brill’s campaign had been equipped with a “nuclear weapon” to use on McLeod in the event they felt they needed it.
This website has always liked McLeod. We don’t approve of her ideological orientation, obviously, but we’ve always thought she advocated her positions honestly (and passionately). Also, given Brill’s position on the far left of the Republican spectrum it’s hard to tell what would be gained by supporting her candidacy.
If elected, she would likely vote with liberal Senate Republicans like Hugh Leatherman, John Courson and Luke Rankin – making this race a wash from our perspective no matter who wins.
Still, it is instructive as it relates to internal Democratic politics in South Carolina – which appear to be every bit as divisive and cutthroat as GOP politics.
(Banner via iStock)