Two major Democratic candidates will battle on June 14 for the chance to challenge Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, but whoever emerges will face an uphill fight against the incumbent in a heavily GOP-friendly environment.
It’s a five-candidate primary field, but the real race is between former Rep. Joe Cunningham and state Sen. Mia McLeod, who’s the first Black woman ever to run for governor in the Palmetto State. Cunningham, who narrowly lost re-election in the Charleston-based 1st District in 2020, is the type of moderate Democrat who could perhaps be competitive if the climate wasn’t so bad for Democrats in what’s already a difficult state: South Carolinians haven’t won the governor’s mansion since 1998, and no Democrat has been elected statewide since 2006. Cunningham has outperformed national baselines before, winning an upset in 2018 in a district Trump had carried by 18 points just two years earlier. In 2020, he lost by one point to Republican Nancy Mace even as Trump won the district by 6 points. McLeod, though, would also give Democrats someone who could help
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