Sheheen coy about 2014 plans

State Sen. Vincent Sheheen lost the 2010 governor’s race to Nikki Haley by a 51-47 ratio.

CHARLOTTE — When U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., introduced state Sen. Vincent Sheheen at a party here Monday evening, he alluded that Sheheen could be South Carolina’s next governor.

And when the Camden Democrat talks to his party’s faithful at the Democratic National Convention, which he already has done a few times, he talks less about his Senate district or the Legislature than he does about the state as a whole.

Sheheen came close to winning the 2010 South Carolina governor’s race two years ago — he lost to Republican Nikki Haley by a 51-47 ratio.

The closeness of that race marked a silver lining for a state Democratic Party that has experienced little success statewide, and all signs point to Sheheen’s seeking a rematch in two years.

When some college students asked him about a possible 2014 gubernatorial bid, Sheheen noted that he is seeking re-election to his District 27 Senate seat.

Even though he is unopposed, he noted that it’s not smart to try to run for two offices at once.

The 41-year-old lawyer is making the most of his time here.

He spoke to South Carolina’s delegation members Tuesday, thanking them for their past support.

He said he figured he would win the 2010 election if he received 570,000 to 590,000 votes. He got 630,000 but still fell about 60,000 short.

His emerging stump speech talked about South Carolina’s stubbornly high unemployment rate, about state Republican leaders’ refusing to accept federal dollars for public education and about a string of GOP statewide officials slapped with ethics fines or criminal charges.

When he had finished Tuesday morning, State Democratic Party Chairman Dick Harpootlian quipped, “That was a hell of a state Senate campaign speech.”

Reach Robert Behre at 937-5771.

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