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Politics: Former Waccamaw Democrat runs for state party chairman

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

A former president of the Waccamaw Neck Democrats announced this week she is in the race to chair the S.C. Democratic Party. Susan Smith of North Litchfield has the backing of two leading Democrats in the legislature and former Gov. Jim Hodges.

“I hope to make our party stronger by working with all Democrats and those South Carolinians who feel disenfranchised by our political system and those in leadership positions who have failed us,” Smith said in a statement.

The current state chairman, Jaime Harrison, is running to chair the Democratic National Committee. The state party will elect a new chairman at its convention in April.

Smith’s goals for the party include building stronger grassroots and expanding its base; recruiting strong candidates for all offices at the state and local level; and expanding fundraising efforts. This year’s election left the Democrats with only one county-wide officerholder in Georgetown County: Clerk of Court Alma White. The Waccamaw Democrats no longer hold regular meetings.

Smith is the current president of the S.C. Democratic Women’s Council and southern regional director of the National Federation of Democratic Women. She has served on the S.C. Democratic Party executive committee and executive council.

She was a delegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and the 2012 convention in Charlotte.

“It’s important for the next chairman to work closely with elected leaders at the federal, state and local level to get more Democrats elected,” Hodges said, “and Susan has pledged to do that.”

State Rep. Todd Rutherford, the House minority leader, is also backing Smith. “Susan understands that we must build our state party from the grassroots level and up. She knows that we must re-brand and refocus ourselves to core Democratic values in order for us to begin winning elections again,” he said. “Susan is committed to proudly and boldly speaking out for all Democrats, and attracting new ones.”

State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter who chairs the Southern Caucus Regional for the Democratic National Committee called Smith “a long-time champion who’s never been afraid to speak up, and in times like these we need strong and progressive leaders who are committed for the long haul.”

Smith was born in North Carolina. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Columbia College where she served as president of the College Democrats and was twice selected as a Fellow for the Center of the Study of the Presidency. Her husband, Richard, is an attorney with the McNair Law Firm and a former chairman of the Georgetown County Democratic Party.

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