COLUMBIA, S.C. — Another municipal official in South Carolina is leaving the Democratic Party, a move that solidifies the complete turnover of elected officials in Dorchester County from blue to red and is being heralded by state GOP officials as evidence of frustration with Democrat leadership in Washington.
First elected to Dorchester County Council in 2019 as a Democrat, Harriet Holman said Monday she would stand for reelection this fall as a Republican.
“I have never been political, and through my time in the military, I did not give my party affiliation much thought,” Holman, who is retired from the U.S. Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2010, said in a video released Monday. “So when I ran for county council … I ran as a Democrat, because that is what you were supposed to do.”
But as she further developed her political identity, Holman said, she felt less certain about that affiliation.
“It became apparent that I am not a Democrat,” said Holman, who is Black, going on to describe her opposition to abortion and support for law enforcement funding. “Nationally, the Democratic Party does not represent who I am.”
Over at least the past two decades, Dorchester County has supported GOP presidential candidates, as well as candidates for statewide office, although the county’s local governing body has been bipartisan.
With Holman’s announced party switch, the area of about 161,000 people just inland from Charleston now will have an entirely GOP council, as well as Republicans in all other elected county offices.
Changing her affiliation, Holman said, “does not change who I am at all.”
Since 2018, according to state GOP officials, four Democrats holding county offices across South Carolina have switched to the Republican Party. That includes longtime Darlington County Clerk of Court Scott Suggs, who in June said he’d been pondering the switch for years due to what he characterized as shifts in Democrats that made the party “unrecognizable” compared to that of years past.
In South Carolina, Republicans control both legislative chambers, all statewide-elected offices and all but one congressional delegation seats.
State GOP Chairman Drew McKissick has characterized the switches as evidence of a deepening conservatism despite blue trends elsewhere, in the past crediting excitement surrounding former President Donald Trump’s continued popularity in South Carolina.
On Monday, McKissick suggested that frustrations with the party‘s leadership in Washington could be prompting disaffected Democrats to defect.
“After a year of Joe Biden in the White House and a Democrat-controlled Congress, it’s no surprise more and more people are switching to the Republican Party,” McKissick said. “Between sky high inflation, multiple foreign policy disasters, a surge at our southern border, and a spike in crime, we’ve seen the failures and crises caused by Democrat leadership on full display.”
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.
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