COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – State Senator Mia McLeod announced Tuesday she is leaving the Democratic party saying it “no longer espouses the values my constituents and I hold dear.”

McLeod campaigned to become the Democratic nominee for governor during the 2022 election, but ultimately lost the nomination for former U.S. Representative Joe Cunningham.

The state lawmaker who currently represents Richland District 22 said her decision to leave the South Carolina Democratic Party was not meant to disparage anyone who identifies as a Democrat in the state; however, she believes the SCDP’s “party-focused approach” is not working for South Carolinians.

“And if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work for me,” she wrote in a lengthy statement.

“My parents taught us to always vote for the person whose vision and values were most aligned with ours. I’ve stayed true to that by working with and supporting honest, compassionate, empathetic servant-leaders of both parties. But, after fighting republicans and democrats for the past twelve years…it hurts to admit how often I’ve had to fight my own party, just to help my own people,” said McLeod.

McLeod was the first woman to represent House District 79 and the first woman and African American to represent District 22 and the first Black woman to run for governor of South Carolina.

“My mission is to advance a “people-focused” platform that genuinely improves lives since I’m now even more enlightened about the true state of our state and why so many of us lack the representation and resources we need to thrive here,” she said.

McLeod said the SCDP has not made any significant changes or won a gubernatorial race in 20 years.

“By not engaging, enlightening or expanding the electorate…refusing to publicize the June Primary and getting a historical top of the ticket “shellacking” on November 8, the party ensured a republican super-majority and the losses of eight black legislators in the SC House, five of whom were black women.”

McLeod said she will move forward “boldly, fearlessly, and independently.”