GREENVILLE — In the heart of the Republican voting belt, Gov. Nikki Haley launched her bid for a second term, telling 300 people under a blazing sun, “If you think what we did in the first 2 1/2 years was great, wait and see what we are going to do next.”
Listing a collection of accomplishments from job recruitment to fighting unions and reforming government, Haley took to a friendly stage Monday outside the Bi-Lo Center where she said she’d been given the blessing of her inner circle to seek a second term.
“I and my family respectfully and humbly are going to run for governor of the state of South Carolina again,” she said to a cheering crowd.
Her entrance music, “American Girl,” by Tom Petty, played to her accomplishment of rising from the daughter of Indian immigrants to lead the state as its first female top executive.
Haley listed bringing in 37,500 new jobs to 45 of the state’s 46 counties, a five-year unemployment low of about 8.1 percent, and aggressively going against unions toward 9,000 jobs at the Boeing plant in North Charleston, among her achievements.
Other advocacy points she listed included mandating showing a picture ID to vote, putting the governor and lieutenant governor on the same ticket, and lowering taxes for small business.
Leading the event was U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., whom Haley appointed in December to fill the vacancy created by Jim DeMint’s resignation to lead the Heritage Foundation.
“Aren’t you all so incredibly proud of our governor, Nikki Haley?” he said with a shout. “When we needed a governor to stand up to NLRB (the National Labor Relations Board) and the unions, we look to Nikki Haley.”
Haley was additionally flanked by three other governors — Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Rick Perry of Texas and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — who all sang her praises before heading to a fundraiser.
All three men potentially carry possible national aspirations, though they said it is too early to discuss 2016, even as the Democrats were part of their hit comments.
“Is this the most incompetent administration in our history?” Jindal said to applause. Walker referred several times to opposing “the big-time union bosses.”
While Haley’s announcement is considered an early start of the political season, the South Carolina race is one of 36 governor battles shaping up for next year. Haley’s only announced competition is state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, in a rematch of 2010. Haley beat him by some 60,000 votes three years ago in a 51 percent to 47 percent spread.
Meanwhile, Sheheen campaign manager Andrew Whalen took a shot at Haley’s use of the three visiting governors as part of her announcement backdrop.
“We’ll stand on our own two feet,” he said of the race ahead.
Haley already has a significant lead in the money grab, declaring $2.4 million cash-on-hand, to about $571,000 for Sheheen, according to the latest campaign disclosure reports filed with the state.
Sheheen earlier this spring had what his campaign called a “soft” declaration of his candidacy, with more to come in the next few months.
Haley opponents, meanwhile, made it clear they would not make the next 14 months easy. About 40 protesters stood 60 yards across from Haley’s announcement stage holding signs that read “Expand Medicare,” a reference to Haley’s differences with the Obama White House.
Other areas Democrats plan to attack her on in the future are the hacking of taxpayer information from the state Department of Revenue, her handling of the economy and the recent tuberculosis outbreak at a Greenwood County elementary school.
Haley made note of the kept-at-bay protester presence early in her announcement, responding “my husband and all his military brothers and sisters are fighting in Afghanistan right now for your right to do that.”
Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551.