[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/11/art.robertford.gov.rffg.jpg caption ="Democratic South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford on Thursday said that white state party leaders are running the party ‘like a plantation.’"](CNN) - The combustible issue of race was at play once again in South Carolina Thursday as an unsuccessful African-American gubernatorial candidate griped that Democratic leaders in the state are running the party "like a plantation at the expense of black candidates."
In a letter [pdf] to members of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus and obtained by CNN, state Sen. Robert Ford complained about fellow black legislators who lined up behind the Democratic frontrunner and eventual nominee, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who is white.
Though he said he has "love and respect" for Sheheen, Ford said he is "going to be bitter for a long time" about the outcome of the governor's race and went on to blast younger black legislators who "could care less about civil rights."
The always outspoken Ford, who made raising tax revenue from video poker a central plank of his campaign, raised little money and was never given a serious shot at winning the nomination by political handicappers.
Sheehen won the gubernatorial nomination outright Tuesday over Ford and the second place finisher, state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex.
Ford griped that it was an "outright disgrace" and "a slap in the face to African-Americans in this state" that other black leaders did not support him "for the sake of the party."
He said white party elders like state Sen. John Land, former party chairman Dick Harpootlian and former Gov. Jim Hodges are running the party "like a plantation."
"Uncle Tom was alive and well before, during and after the Negro and African-American struggle in this country and obviously he is still alive today," Ford wrote.
Sheehen, who will face the winner of the Republican runoff race between Nikki Haley and Gresham Barrett, had no comment on Ford's missive.