Ginny Deerin, a Charleston nonprofit consultant who also managed Mayor Joe Riley's last re-election bid, said she will run as a Democrat for the S.C. Secretary of State job.
Deerin made her announcement Saturday at the Democrats' statewide issues conference in Greenville.
She is angling to become only the fifth woman, including Gov. Nikki Haley, to be elected to a statewide office in South Carolina.
While Deerin also helps run Project XX - a nonprofit dedicated to promoting female candidates - she said her gender isn't the main reason she's running, "but it is a cherry on the sundae."
Deerin said she's running because she wants to cut the office's fees for nonprofits and businesses, reduce its regulations, cut its budget and improve customer service. "It's kind of become a bloated bureaucracy, and I'd like to change that," she said.
She acknowledged her platform is "very Republican" but said it's not because she's trying to woo the Republican vote. "It is because it is," she said.
Deerin is the only Democrat so far to express interest in the seat.
On the Republican side, Secretary of State Mark Hammond is widely expected to seek a fourth term. Hammond, a former Spartanburg County Clerk of Court, raised $19,641 between October and December and has $33,463 on hand.
Deerin said she plans to take some time off from her consulting work to campaign, and her bid will rely on grassroots work and social media. She also said she would limit her contributions to $100 - well below the $3,500 maximum under state law. "I have to be brilliant in social media," she said, "and part of that is being really real and accessible."
Many might not know what the position does. It handles filings from about 8,000 nonprofits and thousands of for-profit companies, as well as oaths for elected officials and gubernatorial appointees and other paperwork. Deerin said her work as a small businesswoman and as an adviser to nonprofits has given her a close look at an office many voters don't deal with.
Hammond has won his past two elections by wide margins, getting 61 percent of the vote in 2010, but Deerin said she's optimistic that she can win as a Democrat in a state dominated by the GOP in recent elections.
"I think people are smart enough not to pay as much attention to labels as they do to competency and commitment," she said.
Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.
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