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The Future Of The South Carolina Democratic Party

Cory Booker's former state campaign director discusses the power of the black woman vote and the future of the party in the state. (Bruce Smith/AP)
Cory Booker's former state campaign director discusses the power of the black woman vote and the future of the party in the state. (Bruce Smith/AP)

Black women are on the political frontlines in South Carolina, former executive director for the state’s Democratic Party Christale Spain says.

At one time during this election cycle, at least five black women served as state directors for Democratic presidential candidates.

The former Cory Booker state campaign director says not only are black women managing major campaigns, but they’re also running for office. Take LaDonna Hall in the town of Salley and Tracie Clemons in Norway, who are both now mayors in rural South Carolina communities, she says.

“Black women, we’re always there. We’re always working,” she says. “And we’re there because we need to — we have to — protect our community. And we’re now refusing to cede power [to] people who are not going to stand up for us.”

Spain, who has spent years entrenched in the state’s politics, says the main issue facing South Carolinians today is health care.

Health care is a top concern among 42% of state residents, a recent CBS poll found.

Lack of Medicaid expansion, affordable treatment and coverage contribute to the “hurt” residents carry with them when it comes to health care, she says.

“There’s still 14 counties here in South Carolina that don’t have OBGYNs,” she says. “And so that means that mothers have to travel outside of their county, sometimes driving 45 minutes for a prenatal care appointment.”

Spain, standing outside of Cecil Tillis Training Center in Columbia, a place where residents can go for help with water and heating bills, says in addition to health care, there are “life and death” matters that people are dealing with that are often “overshadowed by these big picture policy ideas.”

When talking about the issues, she says people can tend to “disengage and become a little apathetic” about the political process. And as primary day approaches, she’s concerned about the lack of excitement among state Democrats compared to previous presidential election seasons. The number of candidates to choose from and the “extremely long cycle” make it overwhelming for folks, she says.

“Our base really has to be inspired and excited to really go out in droves to get the right people elected,” she says.

Cristina Kim produced and edited this interview for broadcast with Todd MundtSerena McMahon adapted it for the web. 

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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