COLUMBIA - South Carolina voters have "buyer's remorse" because Gov. Nikki Haley has failed to lead on a number of issues, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, the head of the Democratic Governors Association, said in an interview Tuesday.
Shumlin, the head of the DGA, which seeks to elect Democratic governors around the country, was in Columbia for one day to meet with Democratic stakeholders. He said that Democrat Vincent Sheheen, a state senator from Camden, would deliver the governor's mansion for his party.
The challenges, though, will be formidable. The DGA has been outraised two-to-one by the Republican Governors Association, its counterpart. Sheheen was defeated by Haley in 2010 by about 4 percentage points. A Democrat hasn't been elected statewide in years.
Shumlin said that the 2010 race's result shows how close Sheheen came. "Vince Sheheen almost became governor in 2010," Shumlin said. "That was the tea party sweep, the heyday of the tea party. (Sheheen) cares less about party than he does about getting results."
He criticized Haley for a lack of leadership on the Department of Social Services and her handling of the hacking of the Department of Revenue, when millions of South Carolina taxpayers' information were exposed.
"They've hired a governor who seems incompetent at doing the job and doesn't tell the truth when she blows it," Shumlin said of Palmetto state voters.
Haley's strongest asset, political experts say, is her ability to deliver jobs for the state amid an improving economy. The unemployment rate has fallen and Haley's administration recently announced three major deals to bring 7,000 jobs to the state.
RGA spokesman Jon Thompson took Sheheen to task on his work as a criminal defense attorney. He also described the DGA's statements about the race as misleading.
"There's no doubt voters recognize (Haley's) principled leadership and are prepared to hand her a second term so she can continue the economic surge we are seeing," Thompson said in a statement. "The DGA's desperate attempts to mislead, distort, and distract the voters won't work because Governor Haley is equipped with something they don't have: a clear record of results."
A Haley campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.