COLUMBIA — A retired Kiawah Island real estate developer who lost to Henry McMaster in a heated 2014 lieutenant governor's race and was replaced on the State Ports board after McMaster became governor has entered the 2018 race.
Pat McKinney, known for his close ties to Nikki Haley, was named the lieutenant governor running mate for Greenville businessman John Warren on Wednesday.
Warren, one of four GOP challengers trying to unseat McMaster, shares a lot of traits with Haley, said McKinney, who was an early Haley supporter when she surprised a field of political veterans to become governor in 2010.
"I saw something special in her," McKinney said. "She inspired me. I see the same with John."
McKinney said he spoke to Haley shortly before the announcement Wednesday.
"She was very encouraging," he said.
Haley has not endorsed a candidate in the race for her old job.
McKinney said his decision to join the race was not based on McMaster, though the pair have quite a history.
McMaster did not reappoint McKinney to the State Ports Authority board soon after the developer spearheaded efforts to end the agency's consulting contracts with Richard Quinn & Associates, a target in the ongoing Statehouse corruption probe.
The consulting firm, which had worked with McMaster for years, ended up with $5,500 in state fines and restitution for failing to register as a lobbyist.
McKinney said he met last year with FBI and State Law Enforcement Division agents as part of the investigation.
McKinney was appointed to the influential state agency in 2011 by Haley. He also served on the board of Haley's foundation.
In 2014, McKinney finished second in the race for lieutenant governor but dropped out of a runoff with McMaster, who joined the race late. Mike Campbell, the son of the late Gov. Carroll Campbell who finished third, ran in McKinney's place and lost to the former attorney general.
The outcome of that race turned out to be pivotal since Haley resigned midterm in 2017 to become United Nations ambassador, which elevated McMaster to governor.
Warren, a political newcomer who runs a specialty real estate lending firm, is touting himself as an outsider who can reshape state government with his military and business experience. Warren's campaign manager, Taylor Hall, is married to McKinney's daughter. Hall also managed McKinney's lieutenant governor run.
All but two of the eight major party candidates running for governor have announced their running mate picks. The names won't appear on the June 12 primary ballot, and party nominees do not need to formally submit the names of their running mate to state election officials until Aug. 1. But many candidates are revealing their picks early to give voters a sense of their administration.
Warren, the youngest candidate in the field at age 39, balances his ticket with the 68-year-old McKinney.
McMaster named a business owner, Pam Evette, who lives in the Upstate region that's vital to winning GOP races. Mount Pleasant attorney Catherine Templeton — McMaster's chief rival in the GOP primary — added Greenville prosecutor Walt Wilkins last week with a pledge to have him root out corruption if elected.
Democrats Phil Noble and Marguerite Willis, who are white, named African-American running mates, Gloria Tinubu and state Sen. John Scott, respectively. Democratic state Rep. James Smith chose a woman to his ticket, fellow lawmaker Mandy Powers Norrell of Lancaster.
Only a pair of Republicans have not announced running mates, Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant and former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill.
This is the first year in South Carolina that the governor and lieutenant governor will run on the same ticket after being elected separately for decades.