(Columbia, SC) – In a press conference at the Statehouse on January 22, State Representative Ivory Thigpen, also the Legislative Black Caucus Chairman, officially announced his candidacy for South Carolina Senate District 22, currently held by former Democrat-turned-Independent Senator Mia McLeod.
McLeod stands as the sole independent member in the South Carolina Legislature.
Thigpen currently represents the citizens of Richland County in SC House District 79.
Expressing his commitment to bringing leadership and decisive decision-making to the forefront, Thigpen disclosed that over the past year, he actively encouraged McLeod to rejoin the Democratic Party, aiming to avoid a contentious primary election. However, he ultimately decided to run for the seat himself to keep the district in Democratic hands. Thigpen emphasized that waiting for McLeod’s decision put him at a disadvantage, leading to his choice to enter the race.
Senate District 22, once considered a swing district, has raised concerns among Democrats in Richland County. Despite McLeod’s prior substantial victory, a three-way race could potentially split Democratic and swing voters, providing a better chance for a Republican candidate to flip the seat.
During his announcement, Thigpen highlighted shared concerns with McLeod on various issues but stressed the need for a pragmatic approach in the Statehouse. He underscored the importance of cool-headed leaders capable of fostering collaboration and moderation, especially in times of political divisiveness.
As Thigpen gears up for the upcoming primaries scheduled for June 11, 2024, he acknowledged the challenges faced by independent candidates in a presidential election year. Recognizing historical trends of straight-ticket voting, he noted the strategic considerations necessary for navigating the political landscape as a Democrat in a state dominated by Republicans.
As the campaign progresses, this race will undoubtedly be closely watched by voters and political operatives alike.