COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD)- Just one week away from the primary, Joe Cunningham has received an endorsement from S.C. House Democratic leader Todd Rutherford for Governor.

In a press conference Tuesday, Rep. Rutherford (D-Richland) announced his support for the former congressman because “this guy can really do it.”

“Joe has been somebody that I’ve admired from afar for years but now am able to admire up close,” Rep. Rutherford said. “I want everybody to know that this man standing to my left, Joe Cunningham, should be the next governor of the state of South Carolina.”

Rep. Rutherford highlighted Cunningham’s win in 2018 over Katie Arrington in SC-01, flipping a Trump-won district and becoming the first Democrat to represent the district in 40 years.

“He not only flipped a district that Trump won by 13 points, he went to Washington and broke through the partisan rancor and passed two bills into law,” he said.

Rep. Rutherford has served in the S.C. House since 1999 and was elected Minority Leader in 2013.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford,” Cunningham said. “I appreciate Todd putting his faith in our campaign and in our vision for the future.”Todd has been a leader on issues like marijuana legalization, sports betting, Medicaid Expansion, and voting rights. I look forward to working with him and other legislators as we bring South Carolina out of the past and into the future. It’s time to turn the page in South Carolina and write the next chapter in our state’s history.” 

Shortly after the announcement, Cunningham’s opponent State Sen. Mia McLeod got into a heated Twitter exchange with the Minority Leader.

“Good ole Todd endorses Joe bc I refuse to appoint his unqualified new wife as a Richland Co Magistrate, Sen. McLeod tweeted. “Now he can go back to barely holding on as minority leader, funding his mom in law’s nonprofit w/state $$ & using the state plane as his personal vehicle.”

Rep. Rutherford shot back at his colleague for attacking another Black woman.

“Wow the first thing you do is attack a black woman? My wife met all the qualifications to be a magistrate — passed the test twice — yet you echo the same attacks used by racists to undermine all black women as ‘unqualified.'”

McLeod and Rutherford traded one more series of jabs.

“Next time, you probably shouldn’t cheat w/and marry the babysitter. How’s that for disrespecting black women? And since you know so much about MIA…maybe you can tell the people of SC why you were MIA when the SCGOP gerrymandered your House members out of their own districts,” Sen. McLeod tweeted.

“There you go again, attacking black women. That’s a lie and you know it. Since you’re talking about my ex-wife, why didn’t you support her making history as the 1st black woman to be elected Richland County Coroner? You don’t stand up for black women, you only stand for yourself,” Rep. Rutherford responded.

Cunningham will face McLeod in the June 14 primary. The winner of that race will face the winner of the Republican primary in the November General Election.