52b9/1241610042-mcleod_resized.jpgThis week, we look at the earliest stages of the 2010 race for governor. We spoke with three of the candidates that decided they’d enter politics in the state’s biggest race. Because of space, we didn’t get to include all of their comments, so we wanted to give a little more space in this web extra.

Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod, a Democrat, says candidates without former political experience have gone on to successful gubernatorial careers.

“Coming from the private sector will allow me to bring a fresh, new perspective to our issues that the career politicians are incapable of handling,” he says.
The perspective includes knowing first hand the challenges facing small business owners and his work as a lawyer.

“My running for governor is a natural extension of what I’ve done my entire life,” he says.
McLeod has vowed that, if elected, he will not seek another office. Every decision Gov. Mark Sanford makes these days are weighed for the implications on his presidential chances.

“Politicians always seem to be looking at their next seat, and that can sometimes cloud their judgement,” McLeod says. “My job everyday will be to put the people’s interests first.”

The Rev. Amos Elliott, a Democrat who has a church in West Ashley, says he was driven to public office because of continuing struggles with poverty, education, and the economy. He says that people are tired of the status quo.

“It’s the status quo that has us in this economic quagmire,” he says. “I’m in this race to give people an alternative choice. In other words: it’s politics as usual or change.”

He says that good judgement will be experience any time.

Republican Brent Nelsen, a political science professor, says he has entered the race out of frustration, particularly with the leaders of his own party whose infighting he says has distracted the state from addressing issues like the state’s rising unemployment.

“If we can’t be the party of competent governance, the what are we?” he asks.

Nelsen says he recognizes the mountain that he has to climb — with well funded, well known competitors. But he says he’s seeing a change in American politics.

“There’s a growing sense of disillusionment with politicians,” he says. “I’m counting on a backlash to politics as usual.”

The necessities will be in growing a grassroots base and inspiring those socially conservative groups like Latinos, African Americans, and some young people who may have felt ignored or abandoned by the party.

“I’ll have enough money to get the message out,” he says. “I’m not a politician but I have ideas and solutions.”