The longtime leader of state Senate Democrats is bowing out of politics.
Senate Minority Leader John Land, D-Clarendon, said Tuesday in a speech on the Senate floor that he would not run for re-election. Land is the state’s longest-serving lawmaker.
“All of you know that no one has had a better time serving the people of South Carolina than I have over the years,” said Land, 71, who been in the General Assembly since 1975. “I hope I’ve had some impact, but I think it’s long enough.”
The Manning resident is one of several veteran lawmakers who have said in recent days that he will not run again. More announcements are expected as filing opens March 16 for the June primaries.
Others who have said they will retire are: state Sen. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter, a 31-year legislative veteran; state Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, 19 years; and state Rep. Jim Harrison, R-Richland, 23 years.
Some of the retiring members have expressed frustrations over the increasingly partisan nature of state politics and the unwillingness by some lawmakers to compromise to get things done.
“Politics has become so divided and visceral that, when you do compromise to try and actually get something done, you get attacked,” said Wes Donehue, director of the state Senate’s Republican Caucus.
But Land, who represents a safely Democratic district, said that is not the case with him.
“It’s simply that I think it’s time to move on,” said Land, known for his support of public education and his advocacy for highway safety, including sponsoring the state’s seat-belt law and child-restraint law, which requires all children ride in car seats.
An attorney, Land has led the Senate’s Democratic Caucus since 1993, moving from majority leader to minority leader when Republicans took control of the Senate in 2000.
Prior to his election to the Legislature, Land was a member of the state’s Highway Commission for four years.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, Land said he proudly wears the badge of a “liberal Democrat.” During his time in the General Assembly, the state’s general fund budget has grown from about $500 million to an all-time high of $8 billion before the Great Recession hit, he said.
“We have a better South Carolina because of that, and I am proud to be part of that,” he said. “I have seen progress go on and on in this state, and I hope we don’t stop.”