COLUMBIA -- Leighton Lord, a Columbia attorney and managing partner of one of South Carolina's largest law firms, announced this week he will run as a Republican for attorney general.

Lord, 46, becomes the second candidate to jump into the race to replace Henry McMaster, who is running for governor.

Alan Wilson, also a Republican, announced his candidacy earlier this month. Wilson works at a Columbia-based civil litigation law firm and serves as a judge advocate general.

Lord said his work at Nexsen Pruet has prepared him for the job as the state's top prosecutor. The attorney general must understand diverse areas of law such as securities, charities and environmental issues as well as have executive experience, Lord said.

"I've been trained perfectly to be chief legal officer of the state," Lord said Thursday, noting that he manages a group of lawyers with many different areas of legal expertise.

Lord is a political newcomer, but he has been active in the Republican Party. He also serves on the Santee Cooper board.

Before he went to work for Nexsen Pruet 16 years ago, Lord served as Republican staff counsel for the U.S. Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations that helped him gain experience with the prosecution of organized crime, gang violence, fraud and illegal immigration.

Lord was born in Hawaii and raised in a military family. He and his wife, Caroline, have three children.

Lord said he expects to make a formal announcement in October once he has assembled his political team.