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McLeod gets Higher Heights' backing for South Carolina gov

Mia McLeod, Coley Mearite
Meg Kinnard/AP
/
AP
FILE - In this June 1, 2021, file photo, state Sen. Mia McLeod, left, stands in the sanctuary of Shiloh Baptist, her family's church, talking with Rev. Coley Mearite in Bennettsville, S.C. A national organization dedicated to electing progressive Black women at all levels has given its backing to McLeod in the South Carolina governor's race. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

A national organization dedicated to electing progressive Black women at all levels has given its backing to state Sen. Mia McLeod in the South Carolina governor's race.

In its endorsement of the Democrat, Higher Heights for America on Monday called McLeod "a fierce advocate for jobs, economic and workforce development" who "knows how to bring Democrats and Republicans together to make real progress for South Carolina."

Founded in 2014, Higher Heights gave its backing to now-Vice President Kamala Harris in her 2020 presidential campaign. The group also provided significant support during the 2018 midterm elections to candidates who helped usher in the most diverse Congress in history.

A state lawmaker for a decade, McLeod, 53, was elected to South Carolina's House in 2010 and the Senate in 2016. A communications consultant, she has served several state government stints, including director of the Office of Victim Assistance and government affairs director at the state probation department.

According to University of South Carolina professor Bobby Donaldson, a scholar of Southern history and African American culture, McLeod is the first Black woman to seek South Carolina's top job.

If elected, she would be only the state's second female governor. McLeod also would be the first-ever Black governor in the state whose constitution was reconfigured during the Jim Crow era, weakening the office in the event that a Black person were ever elected to it.

In launching her gubernatorial bid last summer, McLeod told The Associated Press that she felt she could become the first Black woman to serve as a U.S. governor, despite the fact that Democrats haven't been elected to a statewide office in South Carolina in 15 years.

McLeod will face other Democrats in next June's primary. Since entering the race, she has brought in about $275,000, while former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham has raised $1 million.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, who has yet to draw a primary opponent raising significant money, has amassed a war chest of more than $3.5 million.

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Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.